Dan O'Brien is a playwright, poet, librettist, and a 2015-16 Guggenheim Fellow in Drama & Performance Art. His most recent play, The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage received the 2018 PEN America Award for Drama. His play about the Battle of Mogadishu and the haunting of war reporter Paul Waatson, entitled The Body of an American, was produced in recent years off-Broadway at Primary Stages (NY Times Critic's Pick), in London and Northampton, England (Gate Theatre and Royal & Derngate), and around the US. The Body of an American received the PEN Center US Award for Drama, the inauguraal Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, the Horton Foote Prize for Best New American Play, and was shortlisted for an Evening Standard Prize in the UK. He is currently co-commissioned to write a play about the Sandy Hook school shooting for American Revoluations: The United States History Cycle at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater.
O'Brien's debut poetry collection, War Reporter, published in the US and the UK and praised in the Guardian as "a masterpiece of truthfulness and feeling," received the UK's Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for a First Collection. His other poetry collections, published in the US and the UK, are Scarsdale and New Life. His fourth collection, Our Cancers, is forthcoming from Acre Books (University of Cincinnati Press) in 2021. O'Brien is the recipient of numberous fellowships and residencies including the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy. His essays have been published by Samuel French, Oberon Books, Playscripts, Dramatic Publishing, and Broadway Play Publishing. He has taught playwriting at the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Princeton University, Brown University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Middlebury College, Grinnell College, and many other colleges and universities in the US. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor, writer, and producer Jessica St. Clair, and their daughter, Isobel.
(photo credit Cambridge Jones)
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Dan O'Brien’s book A Story that Happens: On Playwriting, Childhood, & Other Traumas to be published April 2021. Originally written as a series of craft lectures for the annual Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the four chapters in A Story that Happens deliver practical reflections on techniques of storytelling in the theatre that are also relevant to other disciplines. Drawing deeply on O’Brien’s experience of cancer and of childhood abuse, and of his ongoing friendship and collaboration with a war reporter, these essays offer hard-won insights into what stories are for and the reasons why, ‘afraid and hopeful’, we begin to tell them. Pre-order link here.
Dan O'Brien's THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN will be produced at Curious Theatre Company in Denver, Colorado, running from November 9th to December 9th, 2017. For more information: https://www.curioustheatre.org/event/the-body-of-an-american/