Actors imagine their dream roles

Writing tips

Some of the brilliant actors who work with the Playwrights’ Center have been thinking about their dream roles. No, we’re not talking Hamlet or Medea or Blanche DuBois. We asked our actors to think like playwrights and dream up their ideal role. Maybe some of their ideas will inspire you!


(recent PWC workshops: Idris Goodwin’s The Realness and Gabriel Jason Dean’s Something Quiet)

My dream role would be a kick-ass bio take on the life of Mario Lanza. Come on—it’s Mario Lanza! I asked my wife, and she said I should play a sociopath, a cyborg, or the planet Jupiter. I also asked my brother this question and he said a comedy character that would play opposite Seth Rogen.


(recent PWC workshop: Steve Moulds’ Mindfuck City)

I have so many dream roles, but here’s something that would be super fun to work on: a weekly installment of plays that tell a complete story over the course of a “season,” much like a TV series. Each play/episode could be performed a number of times each week (e.g. the standard 8 show week), but a new week would bring the next step forward in the story.

Would be really cool to combine the ability that a TV series affords to explore/develop a character over the course of a longer period with the ephemeral nature of theater.


(recent PWC workshop: Ken Weitzman’s Sacrifice)

An Iraq veteran who is a cross-dressing drug addict. A wizard with no actual powers. A drunk with a heart of gold and a secret.


(recent PWC workshop: Karen Hartman’s Bloody Monday at the Love Bytes event)

My dream role would be the character that does it all, probably in the form of a solo show. Singing, dancing, physical comedy, audience participation, story-telling, comedy, and some weird stuff thrown in for good measure. And top it all off with a story arc that hits you in the heart.


(2014-15 McKnight Theater Artist; recent PWC workshop: Chris Demos-Brown’s Wrongful Death)

A shy person, someone who doesn’t like the spotlight, gentle.


(recent PWC workshops: Josh Wilder’s Superstar and Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees)

My dream role would be to play a multi-layered Asian American woman who passes the Bechdel test and is not a prostitute, concubine, dragon lady, mysterious martial arts master, person whose only function is to show the lead has friends of color, or other stereotype—unless being one of these means we get to turn stereotypes on their heads.


(recent PWC workshop: Michele Lepsche’s Roller Derby Queen)

A folk-singer who is done with trying to “be” someone, but who is not done with the music.


(recent PWC workshop: Ricardo Vazquez’s Literary Behavior)

I would be so stoked to play the life of John Belushi, or even a guy that thinks he is John Belushi. (Sort of like Bubba Ho-tep, if you know the movie).

There are so many jock/buffoon-like characters, and there are many nerd/geek/intellectual roles, but in my experience there aren’t really some that are both. What about a really athletic sports nut, whose favorite sport is chess?

Someone who has a deep love for martial arts, but obviously has no reason to be near a Kung-fu class.

A hopeless romantic who is overwhelming with his love, but then comes across something in his life that shows him how to love with tenderness rather than eagerness.


(recent PWC workshop: Max Delgado’s We look up and see our galaxy)

A Gotham City villain.


(recent PWC workshop: Adam Kraar’s The Karpovsky Variations)

A total buffoon who, despite being completely inept and out of his element, wins a successful run for high political office because of a media apparatus that edits his campaign coverage to appeal to whoever is viewing him at the time. He is the perfect outsider. Nearly a footnote in his own campaign.


(recent PWC workshop: George Brant’s Marie and Rosetta)

I would love to play a superhero! To be more specific a black female superhero who wears a giant afro!


(recent PWC workshop: Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees)

A power-hungry poet that swears a lot.

A drug-addled scientist who’s on to something.

A reluctant and non-traditional leading man who refuses to speak in monologues.

An Asian American character that has never heard of the term Asian American. Speaks in a thick jersey accent and does not know where “his people” come from.


(former PWC intern, stage manager)

A talking desk lamp or a crocodile who lives in a trailer.


(recent PWC workshop: Tom David Barna’s The Bonobos)

My dream role would be a complex character in a complex situation, navigating grey areas and uncertainties, whose motivations take a bit of time and work by the actor and the audience to figure out.

Maybe a scientist with multiple personality disorder struggling to work out whether it should be war or peace between the human race and the internet, which has suddenly acquired a shaky but irreversible sentient consciousness.


(recent PWC workshops: Steve Moulds’ Sergio’s Museum and Joe Waechter’s The Hidden People)

Honestly? I would love it if I was in a play and there was a dream sequence or something and I had to sing and dance like I was in a musical. For real. I couldn’t fall down or anything.


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