The Royal Court Theatre in London produced his first play Four and commissioned several plays from him. Shinn said: "The fifteen years I was embraced by the Court allowed me to become the artist I am today."
In an article about Shinn, Rob Weinert-Kendt observed "If playwright Christopher Shinn has a signature character, it is the manipulative victim — the half-sympathetic, half-deplorable sort of person whose suffering is real but who uses it as rationale for bad behavior." As an example, in Dying City, "Shinn conjured twin terrors: a pair of brothers, one a straight soldier shipping off to Iraq, the other a successful gay actor."
Four was produced by the Royal Court Theatre in their Young Writers' Festival in 1998. The play was produced by the Worth Street Company at the TriBeCa Playhouse, New York City in July 2001, directed by Jeff Cohen. It was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club at Stage II in association with the Worth Street Company in January 2002. It was presented by Theaterworks in June to July 2003. Theaterworks is located in Hartford, Connecticut, where Shinn was raised and where the play is set.
Other People premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in March 2000, directed by Dominic Cooke and featuring Daniel Evans, Doraly Rosen, James Frain, and Neil Newborn. The play opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizonss New Theater Wing in October 2000. The play takes place in the East Village in 1997 shortly before Christmas, and involves roommates, current and former, all artists in various fields.
Where Do We Live opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, running from May 11, 2004 to May 30, 2004. Directed by Shinn, the cast featured Emily Bergl, Daryl Edwards, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Luke MacFarlane, Burl Moseley, Jacob Pitts, Aaron Stanford, Liz Stauber and Aaron Yoo. The play won the 2005 Obie Award, Playwriting and was nominated for the 2005 GLAAD Media Awards, Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway and Off-Broadway. The TheatreMania reviewer wrote: "Christopher Shinn is one of the most promising young playwrights to emerge in recent years and 'Where Do We Live' is more ambitious than such previous Shinn efforts...; it demonstrates his growth as a playwright as well as his continued engagement with the complexities of race, class, and sexuality."
His play Dying City was produced Off-Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, from February 15, 2007 in previews, officially on March 4, 2007 to April 29, 2007. Directed by James G. MacDonald the cast starred Rebecca Brooksher and Pablo Schreiber. The play had its world premiere in 2006 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Shinn's play Now or Later premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London from 3 September 2008 to 1 November 2008. Directed by Dominic Cooke, the cast featured Eddie Redmayne, Matthew Marsh, Adam James, Domhnall Gleason, Nancy Crane and Pamela Nomvete. The play takes place during a U.S. presidential election and focuses on the crisis that the gay son of the Democratic candidate is undergoing. The play had its US premiere at the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston in October 2012. Adriane Lenox, Tom Nelis and Grant MacDermott are featured, with direction by Michael Wilson.
His adaptation of Hedda Gabler premiered on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company American Airlines Theatre, from January 6, 2009 to March 29, 2009. The play was directed by Ian Rickson and starred Mary-Louise Parker as Hedda Tesman, Michael Cerveris as Jorgen Tesman and Paul Sparks as Ejlert Lovborg.
Teddy Ferrara was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, and premiered there from February 2, 2013 to March 3, 2013, directed by Evan Cabnet. The play involves a gay college student, Gabe, whose life is complicated by a tragedy on campus. The play was produced in London at the Donmar Warehouse in October 2015, directed by Dominic Cooke.
An Opening in Time premiered at Hartford Stage, running from September 17 to October 11, 2015, directed by Oliver Butler. The play is set in New England and focuses on Anne, in her 60s.
He wrote Sandcastle for "The 24 Hour Plays" which was performed on September 24, 2001, starring Liev Schrieber and Lili Taylor. He wrote Dance of Life for the 2003 version of "The 24 Hour Plays", which was perfprmed at the American Airlines Theatre in September 2003 and starred Rachel Dratch, Catherine Kellner and Sam Rockwell.
Shinn's plays have been premiered by the Royal Court Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, the Vineyard Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and Soho Theatre, and later seen regionally in the United States and around the world. He has also written short plays for Naked Angels, and the New York International Fringe Festival.
Source: Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Four—1998, Royal Court Theatre
- Other People—2000, Royal Court Theatre
- The Coming World—2001, Soho Theatre, London
- What Didn't Happen—2002, Playwrights Horizons
- Where Do We Live—2004, Vineyard Theatre
- On the Mountain—2005, Playwrights Horizons
- Dying City—2006, Royal Court Theatre
- Now or Later—2008, Royal Court Theatre
- Hedda Gabler (adaption) -- 2009, Roundabout Theatre Company, American Airlines Theatre
- Picked—2011, Vineyard Theatre
- Teddy Ferrara—2013, Goodman Theatre
- An Opening in Time—2015, Hartford Stage
- Against—2017, Almeida Theatre
Awards and honors
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting (2005). He has received grants from the NEA/TCG Residency Program and the Peter S. Reed Foundation, and he is a recipient of the Robert Chesley Award for Lesbian and Gay Playwriting.
- Weinert-Kendt, Rob. "Christopher Shinn's plays explore what victims do next" Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2013
- "Faculty, Shinn, Christopher" newschool.edu, accessed November 10, 2015
- Timmel, Lisa. "An Interview With Playwright Christopher Shinn" huntingtontheatre.org, accessed November 10, 2015
- [Rizzo, Frank. "What Did Happen To Christopher Shinn" Hartford Courant, November 24, 2002
- Shinn, Christopher. "Introduction", Shinn Plays: 1: Other People; The Coming World; Where Do We Live; Dying City, A&C Black, 2013, ISBN 1472517326, p. viii
- Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. The Desolation of Desire, Divided by 'Four'" New York Times, July 2, 2001
- Jones, Kenneth. "Shinn's 'Four' to Shine at MTC Stage II in January 2002; Gone Home Bumped" Playbill, December 21, 2001
- Jones, Kenneth. "Shinn's 'Four' Gets Hartford, CT, Premiere, in the Playwright's Hometown, June 20-July 27" Playbill, May 29, 2003
- Shinn, Christopher. "Introduction", Other People, Dramatists Play Service Inc, 2000, ISBN 0822218518, p. 3
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- Where Do We Live lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2015
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- Hetrick, Adam. "Christopher Shinn Drama 'Now or Later', Starring Adriane Lenox and Tom Nelis, Opens in Boston Oct. 17" Playbill, October 17, 2012
- Hedda Gabler ibdb.com, accessed November 10, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth. "Mary-Louise Parker Takes Aim as Broadway's Hedda Gabler, Opening Jan. 25" Playbill, January 25, 2009
- Teddy Ferrara goodmantheatre.org, accessed November 10, 2015
- Kellaway, Kate. " 'Teddy Ferrara' review – a brave play" The Guardian, October 11, 2015
- An Opening in Time hartfordstage.org, accessed November 10, 2015
- "PHOTO CALL: Schreiber and Taylor Are Shinn Strangers for 24 Hours" Playbill, September 26, 2001
- "The 24 Hour Plays" ibdb.com, accessed November 10, 2015
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2014-10-12. bushtheatre.co.uk
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- "TMA Awards 2006" uktheatre.org, accessed November 10, 2015
- "Olivier Awards, 2003" olivierawards.com, accessed November 10, 2015
- Jury, Louise. "Heavyweights of the stage battle for best actor prize" Evening Standard, November 4, 2008
- "South Bank Show Awards (2009)" itnsource.com, 28 January 2009
- "Christopher Shinn and Sheila Callaghan Win Chesley Awards". TheaterMania, June 19, 2002