Adam Rapp

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Adam Rapp
Born (1968-06-15) June 15, 1968 (age 55)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
  • Playwright
  • novelist
  • director
  • screenwriter
EducationClarke University (BA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
RelativesAnthony Rapp (brother)

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]

Rapp was born in Chicago to Mary Lee (née Baird; died 1997) and Douglas Rapp, and spent most of his youth in Joliet, Illinois.[3][citation needed]

He is a graduate of St. John's Military Academy (Delafield, Wisconsin) and Clarke College (Dubuque, Iowa).[3] At Clarke, he captained the varsity basketball team.[4]

After college he moved to New York City's East Village, where he landed a day job in book publishing and wrote fiction and plays at night. He later completed a two-year playwriting fellowship at Juilliard School.[3][4] His younger brother is actor-singer Anthony Rapp.



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]

His play Red Light Winter received the Joseph Jefferson Award (Best New Work) in 2005 for its production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.[7] The play ran off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre from January 20, 2006 to June 25, 2006, directed by Rapp. The play was nominated for the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Play, and Rapp received the 2006 Obie Award, Special Citation.[8] The play was 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. In 2011, Rapp's The Metal Children was given its regional debut by Swine Palace on Louisiana State University's campus.[9]

He has said that the Edge Theater Company in New York City is his "artistic home": "Edge Theater changed my life back in 2003. They are my family."[10]

He made his Broadway debut with his play The Sound Inside, which began playing at Studio 54 starting on September 14, 2019 (opening officially on October 17, 2019), starring Mary-Louise Parker.[11] The play premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018.[12] It was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play at the 74th Tony Awards.

Currently, Rapp is working on the book for The Outsiders: A New Musical, a re-imagination of the 1967 S. E. Hinton novel and the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film adaptation. Its first performance on Broadway is scheduled for March 16, 2024, at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre in New York City.[13]


He has taught at the Yale School of Drama.[14]


The majority of Rapp's plays feature small casts and are set in small spaces.[1] Many characters in the plays are working class Americans.[15] 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[14]

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."[16]


Rapp's first young adult novel, Missing the Piano, was published in 1994. After writing his second book, The Buffalo Tree, which was published in 1997, Rapp was invited to be the first author in residence at Ridgewood High School.[17] The Buffalo Tree was censored by the Muhlenberg School Board in Reading, Pennsylvania due to its themes, graphic language and sexual content.[18] His 2003 novel 33 Snowfish was one of Young Adult Library Services Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults.[19] He released Under the Wolf, Under the Dog in 2004.

His first adult novel, The Year of Endless Sorrows, was released in 2006.[20] Rapp made his graphic novel debut with the release of Ball Peen Hammer in September 2009.[21][22] His second graphic novel, Decelerate Blue, was published in February 2017.

Film, television and music[edit]

Rapp directed his first film, Winter Passing, with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell in 2005[23] and was a creative consultant for the television show The L Word.[24]

While working on The L Word, Rapp left in the middle of the season to attend the Edinburgh Festival, where he directed his play, Finer Noble Gases, which won the Fringe First Award.[5] He wrote for the 2010 season of HBO's In Treatment.[25]

He was a member of the band Bottomside, which released the independent CD The Element Man in September 2004.[26] He is a member of Less the Band, which released the album Bear in April 2006.[27]

In 2021, he co-wrote the pilot episode "Cold Snap" for the Showtime special event series Dexter: New Blood.

List of works[edit]


Source: Gale[1]

Year Award Work Outcome
1995 American Library Association, Best Books for Young Adults Missing the Piano Won
American Library Association, Best Books for Reluctant Readers citation Won
1997 National Playwrights Conference, Herbert & Patricia Brodkin Scholarship Trueblinka Won
1999 Princess Grace Fellowship[28] Won
2000 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, Roger L. Stevens Award Won
2001 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights Nocturne Won
2004 American Library Association, Best Books for Young Adults 33 Snowfish Won
Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Novel Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Finalist
2005 American Library Association, Best Books for Young Adults Won
2006 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Red Light Winter Nominated
Obie Award Won
Schneider Family Book Award, teen category Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Won
2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play Essential Self-Defense Nominated
2010 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book Punkzilla Won
2012 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award Won
2020 Tony Award for Best Play The Sound Inside Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "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 "Life Story". Goodman Theatre. May 4, 2021. Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  4. ^ a b 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. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Author Details". Twentieth Century North American Drama. Alexander Street Press. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "Press Release" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, November 7, 2005
  8. ^ "Red Light Winter". Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  9. ^ "Calendar of Events". Culture Candy. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  10. ^ Rapp, Adam. "Adam Rapp: Finding My Theater Family", March 21, 2007
  11. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, Starring Mary-Louise Parker, Begins on Broadway" Playbill, September 14, 2019
  12. ^ "Review Roundup: Critics Weigh-In on Adam Rapp's THE SOUND INSIDE at Williamstown Theatre Festival". July 3, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew (August 21, 2023). "The Outsiders Musical Will Arrive on Broadway in Spring 2024". Playbill. Retrieved March 25, 2023.
  14. ^ a b Ng, David (October 2007). "Cutting Loose With Adam Rapp". American Theatre: 38–41. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  15. ^ Cummings, Scott T (April 2002). "26th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays". Theatre Journal. 54: 635–39. doi:10.1353/tj.2002.0118. S2CID 201743308. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  16. ^ Gionfriddo, Gina; Adam Rapp (November 2007). "Peering in at the Zoo: Adam Rapp and Gina Gionfriddo on American Theater". The Brooklyn Rail.
  17. ^ Blubaugh, Penny. "An Author in Residence? Why Bother?" (PDF). Educational Resources Information Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  18. ^ Hatza, George (May 30, 2010). "Censorship Battle over the Buffalo Tree". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  19. ^ Gallo, Don (July 2004). "Bold Books for Innovative Teaching: Summer Reading 2004". The English Journal. 93 (6): 112–15. doi:10.2307/4128905. JSTOR 4128905.
  20. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Rapp Discusses New Endless Sorrows Novel Jan. 22" Playbill, January 27, 2007
  21. ^ "Ball Peen Hammer". Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  22. ^ Hogan, John. "The Art of the 'Ball Peen Hammer'", accessed November 11, 2015
  23. ^ "Winter Passing". Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  24. ^ Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: Chatting with Playwright and Screenwriter Adam Rapp" Playbill, February 20, 2006
  25. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (November 12, 2010). "Therapy? Not His Cup of Tea". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  26. ^ "Bottomside". MOG. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014.
  27. ^ "Less the Band". Louisville Music.
  28. ^ "Award Winners Playwrighting", accessed October 18, 2019

External links[edit]