Dan O'Brien (playwright)

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For other people named Dan O'Brien, see Dan O'Brien (disambiguation).
Dan O'Brien
Born 1974 (age 41–42)
New York
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Playwright, poet, librettist
Spouse(s) Jessica St. Clair
Children 1

Dan O’Brien (born 1974) is an American playwright, poet, and librettist whose work includes the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama-winning play The Body of an American, which premiered at Portland Center Stage in 2012 directed by Bill Rauch, and received its European premiere in an extended run at the Gate Theatre in London and Royal & Derngate in Northampton in 2014, directed by James Dacre.[1] The play will be produced off-Broadway by Primary Stages in New York City in the 2015–2016 season.[2] The Kennedy Prize is shared with Robert Schenkkan's All the Way.[3] The Body of an American is also winner of the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play,[4] L. Arnold Weissberger Award, administered by Williamstown Theatre Festival,[5] and the PEN Center USA Award for Drama.[6] The Body of an American was shortlisted for a 2014 Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.[7] O'Brien is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.[8]

O'Brien's debut poetry collection entitled War Reporter was published in 2013 by Hanging Loose Press in Brooklyn and CB Editions in London, edited by Charles Boyle. War Reporter received the 2013 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize,[9] and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.[10] O'Brien's second collection of poetry, Scarsdale, was published in 2014 by CB Editions in London. O'Brien was recently writer-in-residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut.[11]

Patrick McGuiness writes in The Guardian that War Reporter is "a masterpiece of truthfulness and feeling, and a completely sui generis addition not just to writing about war but to contemporary poetry.”[12] War Reporter was a staff pick for best books of 2013 at Slate.com, where William J. Dobson hails it as an "incredible achievement. Anyone who cares about how we go to war—and how we return—must read it." [13]

O'Brien wrote the libretti for two one-act operas by composer Jonathan Berger. Theotokia and The War Reporter, titled jointly as Visitations, was commissioned by Stanford Live, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mellon Foundation, and premiered at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in April 2013, directed by Rinde Eckert and performed by New York Polyphony and Mellissa Hughes.[14] This production of Visitations received a New York City premiere at the 2014 Prototype Festival.[15]

O'Brien's plays include The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, The Cherry Sisters Revisited, The Voyage of the Carcass, The Dear Boy, The House in Hydesville, Moving Picture, Key West, Am Lit, Lamarck, The Last Supper Restoration, The Angel in the Trees, "Will You Please Shut Up?", and The Disappearance of Daniel Hand. His work has been produced by Second Stage Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Geva Theatre Center, Page 73 Productions, The Production Company, SoHo Playhouse, and elsewhere. He has served as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, the Djerassi Fellow in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and as the Tennessee Williams Fellow in Playwriting at The University of the South (Sewanee). He has frequently served on the playwriting faculty at the Sewanee Writers' Conference. His work has been developed at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, The New Harmony Project, and elsewhere.

O'Brien is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, and received a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Brown University, graduating with high honors.[16] In 1996-97 O'Brien received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for travel and independent study in Ireland and the U.K. Previous awards include the American Theatre Critics Association's M. Elizabeth Osborn Award for Best New Play by an Emerging Playwright.

O'Brien's poetry and fiction have appeared internationally in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals including the London Sunday Times, Geist, Southwest Review, Missouri Review, 32 poems, Poetry Review, The White Review, Magma Poetry, Cyphers, The Moth, ZYZZYVA, St. Petersburg Review, Malahat Review, Grain, Event, St. Ann's Review, 5 AM, 10TAL, StoryQuarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Pinch, Greensboro Review, Crab Orchard Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Margie, and many others.

O'Brien is originally from New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress, writer, comedian, and producer Jessica St. Clair. Their daughter, Isobel Kelly O'Brien, was born on October 1, 2013.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Shenton, Mark. "London's Gate Theatre to Present These American Lives". Playbill.com. 
  2. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Primary Stages Announces Off-Broadway Premieres by Acclaimed Playwrights". Playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Healy, Patrick (22 February 2013). "First Winners of Kennedy Prize Announced". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Healy, Patrick. "Dan O'Brien and Suzan-Lori Parks Win Horton Foote Prize". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Rickwald, Bethany. "Dan O'Brien, Greg Naughton, Adam Rapp Set for Williamstown Theatre Festival's Fridays @ 3 Reading Series". TheatreMania.com. 
  6. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (22 August 2013). "Joan Didion to be awarded PEN Center USA prize by Harrison Ford". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ Jury, Louise. "London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2014 shortlist announced". http://www.standard.co.uk. Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 November 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ "Fellowship Awards In The United States And Canada, 2015". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/news/fenton-aldeburgh-first-collection-prize-2013-winner-announced/
  10. ^ Bury, Liz (8 July 2013). "Forward poetry prizes highlight 'powerful year for poetry'". The Guardian. London. 
  11. ^ http://www.jamesmerrillhouse.org/writers_in_residence.htm
  12. ^ McGuiness, Patrick (15 November 2013). "War Reporter by Dan O'Brien – review". Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  13. ^ http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/11/slate_staff_picks_for_best_books_of_2013.html
  14. ^ "Jonathan Berger's 'Visitations,' at Stanford". The New York Times. 15 April 2013. 
  15. ^ http://prototypefestival.org/show/visitations-theotokia-and-the-war-reporter/
  16. ^ http://www.danobrien.com/bio/