Tori Keenan-Zelt
she, her, hers
Affiliated Writer
New York, NY
I write question-based plays that chart emotional territory through heightened theatrical worlds. Many of them decide to be comedies.

TORI KEENAN-ZELT is an award-winning playwright who also writes for the screen. Originally from Pittsburgh, she has written her way out of an evangelical childhood and two young marriages. Her work uses the interplay of humor and horror to illuminate the dark corners of women's lives that often go unseen. Her plays include How the Baby Died (Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Ingram New Works Lab); Seph (The Araca Project, Princess Grace Award Finalist, Fresh Ground Pepper PlayGround PlayGroup); Air Space (The Kilroys’ The List, The Ingram New Works Lab); Truth/Dare (Project Y, New York Innovative Theatre Award Nominee for Best Original Script, Best Ensemble Pittsburgh Fringe, Best Live Performance—The Nashville Scene); The Egypt Play (The Playwrights Center); and Episode #121: Catfight! (Yale Cabaret), and others. 

Tori holds a BA from Harvard and an MFA from NYU Tisch. She has written for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Electronic Field Trip series (PBS), for which she received an Emmy nomination, and her award-winning one-act play How to Be a Widow recently aired on NPR’s Playing on Air program. Currently, she is commissioned by San Francisco Playhouse (The JonBenét Game) and is developing a new play in residence with New Georges (Invasive Species). She splits her time between NYC and Nashville and grows work around the country. 

Instagram: @Victorious_TKZ


Now available on Playing on Air: HOW TO BE A WIDOW by Tori Keenan-Zelt (Kilroys List, Bay Area Playwrights Festival) features Mary Bacon (Lost Girls, Coal Country) and Naomi Lorrain (“Orange is the New Black,” Behind the Sheet). Lucie Tiberghien (Molière in the Park) directs. After the play, Tiberghien joins the cast, the playwright, and host Claudia Catania to discuss how the rules of womanhood and widowhood have — and haven’t — changed from the Civil War to today.

On a sweltering afternoon in 1864, two Civil War widows meet in a graveyard. Mirabelle is trying to paint a pineapple; Annaleigh needs to make sure that her husband hasn’t turned into a vampire. Together, the women begin to imagine the futures that might await them beyond corsets, lockets, and bullets.