Adam Rapp

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Adam Rapp
Born (1968-06-15) June 15, 1968 (age 46)
Joliet, Illinois, United States
Occupation Playwright, novelist, film director, screenwriter
Nationality American
Education Clarke College, Juilliard School
Genre young-adult fiction, plays
Notable awards 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

Adam Rapp (born June 15, 1968) is an American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, musician and film director.[1] His play, Red Light Winter, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006.[2]

Early life[edit]

The son of Mary Lee (née Baird) and Douglas Rapp, he was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, with his brother, actor Anthony Rapp, and sister, Anne. His parents divorced when Rapp was five, and he and his siblings were raised by their mother, who died in 1997 from cancer.[1][3]

He graduated[when?] from St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he played varsity basketball.[4] He had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player until he took a poetry writing class in college, where he discovered he had a talent for creating stories.[4] He also completed a two-year playwriting fellowship at The Juilliard School.[4]



Rapp attended the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in 1996.[5] His play Finer Noble Gases was staged by the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 2000, by Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2001, by Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in Charlotte in 2003, and by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City in 2004.[6] In 2001, Nocturne was premiered by the New York Theatre Workshop.[6] It has also been staged at by American Repertory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.[6] His play Stone Cold Dead Serious was produced in 2002 by the American Repertory Theater.[6]

Rapp's Red Light Winter received the Joseph Jefferson Award in 2005 for its production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.[citation needed] The play was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2006.[2] Rapp directed a production of Los Angeles, by Julian Sheppard, in 2007 at the Flea Theatre. As of 2007, Rapp was the resident playwright at the Edge Theatre Company in New York City.[citation needed] He teaches at the Yale School of Drama.[3] In 2011, Rapp's The Metal Children was given its regional debut by Swine Palace on Louisiana State University's campus.[7]

The majority of Rapp's plays feature small casts and are set in small spaces.[1] Many characters in the plays are lower-class Americans.[8] His plays often combine stories of Midwestern longing with the idea of finding escape in New York. He combines humor with gloom, preferring dark themes[3]

In a conversation with fellow playwright Gina Gionfriddo published in The Brooklyn Rail, Rapp says: "When you see something powerfully acted on stage, it hits a nerve in the way music hits a nerve … Watching someone twelve feet from you falling in love or being abused … There’s something raw about that experience that you don’t get from film or TV."[9]


Rapp's first young adult novel, Missing the Piano, was published in 1996. After writing his second book, The Buffalo Tree, in 1999, Rapp was invited to be the first author in residence at Ridgewood High School.[10] The Buffalo Tree was censored by the Muhlenberg School Board in Reading, Pennsylvania due to its themes, graphic language and sexual content.[11] His 2003 novel 33 Snowfish was one of Young Adult Library Services Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults.[12] He released Under the Wolf, Under the Dog in 2004. His first adult novel, The Year of Endless Sorrows, was released in 2006.[citation needed] Rapp made his graphic novel debut with the release of Ball Peen Hammer in September 2009.[citation needed]

Rapp has said that his ideas for characters and stories come to him most often while playing basketball or walking the streets of New York. He is interested in the rhythm and language that he hears while listening to conversations and voices.[4]

Film, television and music[edit]

Rapp directed his first film, Winter Passing with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell (2005), and was a creative consultant for the television show The L Word.[citation needed] While working on The L Word, Rapp left in the middle of the season to attend the Edinburgh Festival.[5] He wrote for the 2010 season of HBO's In Treatment.[citation needed] He was a member of the band Bottomside, which released the independent CD The Element Man in September 2004.[13] He is a member of "Less the Band", which released the album Bear in April 2006.[14]

List of Works[edit]


Year Nominated work(s)/Awards Category Result
1995 Missing the Piano Best Books for Young Adults, American Library Association Won
1995 Missing the Piano Best Books for Reluctant Readers citations, American Library Association Won
1997 Trueblinka Herbert & Patricia Brodkin Scholarship, National Playwright's Conference Won
1999 Playwriting award Princess Grace Fellowship Won
2000 Roger L. Stevens Award Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Won
2001 Nocturne Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights Won
2004 Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Los Angeles Times Book Award nomination Won
2006 Red Light Winter Pulitzer Prize for Drama (finalist) Nominated
2006 Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Schneider Family Book Award, teen category Won


  1. ^ a b c d "Adam Rapp". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Biography in Context. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Drama". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Ng, David (October 2007). "Cutting Loose With Adam Rapp". American Theatre: 38–41. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Angel, Ann. "E-view With Adam Rapp". The Alan Review. Virginia Tech. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Hart, Sarah. "Looking Both Ways". American Theatre. Theatre Communications Group. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Author Details". Twentieth Century North American Drama. Alexander Street Press. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Calendar of Events". Culture Candy. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ Cummings, Scott T (April 2002). "26th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays". Theatre Journal 54: 635–39. doi:10.1353/tj.2002.0118. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ Gionfriddo, Gina; Adam Rapp (November 2007). "Peering in at the Zoo: Adam Rapp and Gina Gionfriddo on American Theater". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  10. ^ Blubaugh, Penny. "An Author in Residence? Why Bother?". Educational Resources Information Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ Hatza, George (May 30, 2010). "Censorship Battle over the Buffalo Tree". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Gallo, Don (July 2004). "Bold Books for Innovative Teaching: Summer Reading 2004". The English Journal 93 (6): 112–15. JSTOR 4128905. 
  13. ^ "Bottomside". MOG. 
  14. ^ "Less the Band". Less the Band. Louisville Music. 

External links[edit]