Rebecca Gilman

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Rebecca Gilman
Born Rebecca Claire Gilman
Birmingham, Alabama
Occupation Playwright
Notable awards Evening Standard Award

Rebecca Gilman (born 1965 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an American playwright.


She attended Middlebury College, graduated from Birmingham-Southern College, and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa.


Gilman was the first American playwright to win an Evening Standard Award. She serves on the advisory board for Chicago Dramatists.[1] She has received the 2008 Harper Lee Award.[2]

Her most widely known works are Spinning Into Butter, a play that addresses political correctness and racial identity, and Boy Gets Girl, which was included in Time Magazine's List of the Best Plays and Musicals of the Decade.[3]

A production of her adaptation of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter[4] was the occasion of a protest by actors who felt only a deaf person should play a deaf person on stage.[5][6] She is a professor in Northwestern University's Department of Radio-TV-Film[7] and core faculty in Northwestern's MFA in Writing for the Screen+Stage program.

When asked about her influences, she remarked that "I'm a big fan of Wallace Shawn. He's incredibly smart and the only writer who writes about intellectuals in a complicated and even contradictory way. He's really funny, too. I also like Donald Margulies, Kenneth Lonergan, and Conor McPherson...Caryl Churchill, Kia Corthron, and a Chicago playwright, Jamie Pachino."[8]


Personal life and awards[edit]

She lives in Chicago.

She received the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays as well as a Jeff Award for Spinning into Butter.[11] According to Chris Jones, this play made her "One of America's most talked-about and sought-after playwrights."[12]

She has won several awards for her play The Glory of Living (2001), including the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.[11] It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.[13]

Gilman won the Scott McPherson Award and an Illinois Arts Council playwriting fellowship.[11] She likes to discuss issues in her plays.[13] The Glory of Living is about a mother brutally killing runaways and hitchhikers in an attempt to please her husband. Boy Gets Girl (2000) looks at the power and violence in gender relations. Blue Surge (2001) looks at class, as Spinning into Butter looks at race.[13]

She serves on the board of the Dramatists Guild of America.[14]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Programs"
  3. ^ Time Magazine's List of Best Plays and Musicals of the Decade #5 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 2, 2010)
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ "Discussion of the issues raised by the protest about 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' production and script
  6. ^ Healy, Patrick (October 14, 2009). "Hearing Man in Deaf Role Stirs Protests in New York". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Department of Radio-TV-Film"
  8. ^ "Twenty Questions". American Theatre. Theatre Communications Group. 19 (2): 88. 2002. ISSN 8750-3255. 
  9. ^ See the Goodman Theatre website for more information.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c See Gilman, Rebecca. Spinning into Butter. 2nd edn. New York: Faber and Faber, Inc., 2000.
  12. ^ Jones, Chris. "Spotlighting Racism Brings Anxiety as Well as Success." The New York Times, July 23, 2000, II.5 sec.
  13. ^ a b c Stacks, Geoffrey. "Simon wasn't there: the Sambo strategy, consumable theater, and Rebecca Gilman's Spinning into Butter." African American Review, 40.2 (2006): 285-298.
  14. ^ [3]

External links[edit]