Steven Dietz

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Steven Dietz (born June 23, 1958) is an American playwright, theatre director, and teacher. Called "the most ubiquitous American playwright whose name you may never have heard",[1] Dietz has long been one of America's most prolific and widely produced playwrights.[2] In 2019, Dietz was again named one of the 20 most-produced playwrights in America.[3]

Though several of his plays have been seen Off-Broadway (including "Fiction", "Lonely Planet", "God's Country"), the vast majority of Dietz's plays are produced in American regional theaters.[4] Seattle WA and Chicago IL are among the cities that have proved to be enduring homes for his work.[5][2] Seattle's ACT Theatre has produced 12 plays by Dietz, including 7 world premieres. This includes a recent new variation on his own adaptation of "Dracula" (the most widely produced adaptation of that title in the U.S.) entitled "Dracula: Mina's Quest".[6][7] Dietz's psychological thriller, "How a Boy Falls", premiered at Northlight Theatre, Chicago, in early 2020.[8] It received a Joseph Jefferson Award nomination for Best New Work.[9]

Productions of two new adaptations are scheduled for the 2022-2023 season: "Gaslight" (the first authorized stage adaptation of the Patrick Hamilton thriller, "Gas Light") and "Murder on the Links" (from the novel by Agatha Christie).[10][11]

Dietz's widely produced play, "Shooting Star", has been adapted by Dietz, Kirk Lynn, and Meg Ryan for the upcoming film, "What Happens Later", to be directed by Ryan. The movie is scheduled to star Ryan and David Duchovny.[12]

Recent plays include the dark, two-character mystery "Mirror Lake";[13] a ghost-like valentine to working in the theatre, "The Haunted Play [A Tale Naive and Macabre]";[14] and the "micro intimacy" thriller, "The Shimmering".

During the 2018–19 season, Dietz premiered two interlocking plays for adult and youth audiences, entitled "The Great Beyond" and "The Ghost of Splinter Cove."[15]

During the 2015–16 season, Dietz premiered three new plays: "Bloomsday" (American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award Citation),[16] "This Random World" (Humana Festival of New American Plays),[17][18] and the thriller "On Clover Road" (National New Play Network rolling world premiere).[19][20][21][22][23]

Dietz's plays have been seen at Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago IL), Old Globe Theatre (San Diego CA), Actor's Theatre of Louisville (KY), Seattle Repertory Theatre (WA), Berkeley Repertory Theatre (CA), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland), McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), Alliance Theatre (Atlanta GA), Trinity Repertory Company (RI), the Dallas Theater Center (TX), and the Denver Center Theatre Company, among others. In 2010, Dietz was named one of the most produced playwrights in America (excluding Shakespeare), placing eighth on the list, tied with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for number of productions.[24] Dietz's plays have been produced internationally in over twenty countries, and translated into a dozen languages.

Dietz's work as a director has been seen Off-Broadway (Westside Arts), at major regional theaters (Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre - Seattle, Northlight Theater - Chicago, Denver Center Theatre Company, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Merrimack Repertory Theatre - Lowell MA, City Theatre - Pittsburgh), as well as at the Sundance Institute and the Playwrights' Center - Minneapolis.

Dietz taught in the MFA Playwriting and Directing programs at the University of Texas at Austin from 2006-2018,.[25][26] At UT/Austin, Dietz created an annual new play showcase (UTNT - UT New Theatre),[27] as well as a newly re-imagined MFA Directing program. Notable former students include playwrights George Brant, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Jenny Connell Davis, Martin Zimmerman, Kimber Lee, Meghan Kennedy, Andrew Hinderaker, Abe Koogler, Diana Grisanti, Gabriel Jason Dean, Sarah Saltwick; and directors Halena Kays, Luke Leonard, Courtney Sale, Will Davis, and Hannah Wolf. Dietz continues to conduct master classes in playwriting, story-making and collaboration around the United States. He also teaches nationally as a Dramatists' Guild "Traveling Master."

Life and career[edit]

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Dietz graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Northern Colorado,[28] after which he moved to Minneapolis and began his career as a director of new plays at The Playwrights' Center and other local theaters. During these years he also formed a small theatre company (Quicksilver Stage) and began to write plays of his own. A commission from ACT Theatre to write "God's Country" brought him to Seattle, Washington in 1988, and he lived and worked in Seattle from 1991 to 2006. In 2006 he accepted a professorship at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2006, he and his family have divided their time between Austin and Seattle.

He is the recipient of the PEN U.S.A. Award in Drama (for Lonely Planet, perhaps his most widely performed work);[29] the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award (Fiction and Still Life With Iris); the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award (The Rememberer); the Yomiuri Shimbun Award for his adaptation of Shusaku Endo's Silence; and the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery for his adaptation of William Gillette's and Arthur Conan Doyle's 1899 play Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Dietz is also a two-time finalist for the prestigious Steinberg New Play Award (for "Last of the Boys" and "Becky's New Car"), given by the American Theatre Critics Association. He was awarded the 2016 Steinberg New Play Award Citation for "Bloomsday."

Dietz's plays range from the political ("Last of the Boys", "God's Country", "Halcyon Days", "Lonely Planet") to the comedic ("Becky's New Car", "More Fun than Bowling", "Over the Moon"). Many of them, (e.g. "Trust", "Private Eyes", "Fiction", "Rancho Mirage") have as a central theme the effects of personal betrayal and deception. A recent obsession of Dietz's seems to be the return of the "thriller" to the contemporary theatre canon.[30] Examples include the conspiracy thriller, "Yankee Tavern"; the classic single-set thriller, "On Clover Road"; the intimate thriller, "The Shimmering"; and the psychological thriller, "How a Boy Falls." The majority of the plays are published (in acting editions) by either Dramatists Play Service (New York), or Samuel French, Inc., (New York). An anthology of Dietz's work for young audiences was published by UT Press in 2015.[31] Many of the short plays are also anthologized.

Dietz's work as a director has been seen at many of America's leading regional theatres. He has directed premiere productions of new plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre (Chicago), ACT Theatre (Seattle), San Jose Repertory Theatre, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), Westside Arts (Off-Broadway), and the Sundance Institute, among many others. He was a resident director for ten years at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, where he also served as Artistic Director of Midwest PlayLabs.

Dietz's articles on new play development—most first seen in American Theatre Magazine[32]—have been widely discussed and re-printed.


Original plays (by year of first production)[edit]

  • Brothers and Sisters (1981)
  • Railroad Tales (1983)
  • Random Acts (1983)
  • Wanderlust (1984)
  • More Fun Than Bowling (1986)
  • Painting It Red (1986) (music by Gary Rue and Leslie Ball)
  • Burning Desire (1987) (short play)
  • Foolin' Around with Infinity (1987)
  • Ten November (1987) (music by Eric Bain Peltoniemi)
  • God's Country (1988) (Revised: 2021)
  • Happenstance (1989) (music by Eric Bain Peltoniemi)
  • After You (1990) (short play)
  • Halcyon Days (1991)
  • To The Nines (1991) (short play)
  • Trust (1992)
  • Lonely Planet (1993)
  • Handing Down the Names (1994)
  • The Nina Variations (1996) (variations on the last scene of Chekhov's The Seagull)
  • Private Eyes (1996)
  • Still Life with Iris (1997)
  • Rocket Man (1998)
  • Fiction (2002)
  • Left to Right (2002) (short)
  • Inventing van Gogh (2004)
  • Last of the Boys (2004)
  • The Spot (2004) (short)
  • September Call-Up (2006) (short)
  • Yankee Tavern (2007)[33][34][35]
  • Shooting Star (2008)[36][37]
  • Becky's New Car (2008)[38][39]
  • Rancho Mirage (2012)[40]
  • Mad Beat Hip & Gone (2013) [41][42]
  • On Clover Road (2015)[20][43]
  • Bloomsday (2015)[44][45]
  • This Random World (2016)[46]
  • Drive All Night (2018) (short) [47]
  • The Great Beyond (2019) [48]
  • The Ghost of Splinter Cove (2019) [49]
  • How a Boy Falls (2020) [50][51]

Plays adapted from other sources[edit]


  1. ^ critic, Chris Jones, Tribune arts. "Prolific playwright Dietz still goes with the flow". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Playwright Steven Dietz makes another visit to 'Lonely Planet'". The Seattle Times. November 1, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ Tran, Diep (September 18, 2019). "The Top 20* Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2019-20 Season". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "5 Playwrights Who Have Conquered Off-Broadway and London—But Not Broadway (Yet) | Playbill". Archived from the original on October 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Jones, Chris. "'On Clover Road' a new thriller by Steven Dietz, who calls Chicago 'my New York'". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "In ACT Theatre's New Production of Dracula, the Hunter Becomes the Hunted". The Stranger. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "Dracula gets an update from beloved playwright Steven Dietz". Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved December 27, 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Northlight Theatre will premiere new thriller 'How A Boy Falls' - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ "2020 Jeff Equity Awards Nominees | the Joseph Jefferson Awards".
  10. ^ "North Coast Repertory Theatre Murder on the Links".
  11. ^ "World Premiere of LOVE AMONG THE RUINS & More Announced for Laguna Playhouse 2022-2023 Season".
  12. ^ "Meg Ryan to Direct, Star with David Duchovny in Rom-Com Take 'What Happens Later'". May 3, 2022.
  13. ^ "Broward Lectures Talks Networking and Fund-raisers". July 16, 2018.
  14. ^ "Haunted Play [A Tale of the Naïve and Macabre]".
  15. ^ "Charlotte Theatres Join Forces to Produce Two Interconnected Plays". Children's Theatre of Charlotte. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  16. ^ "American Theatre Critics Association - ATCA Home - Qui Nguyen's "Vietgone" wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Steven Dietz Sweetly Eludes Serendipity in THIS RANDOM WORLD". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  19. ^ Sun-Times, Catey Sullivan-For the (February 8, 2019). "Smart and fast-paced, 'On Clover Road' delivers chills at nearly every turn". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Irwin, Jay. "BWW Review: Seattle Public Theater's Blisteringly Intense ON CLOVER ROAD". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "The Rolling World Premiere of ON CLOVER ROAD by Steven Dietz Continues at Phoenix Theater and San Francisco Playhouse | National New Play Network". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Andrew White (July 13, 2015). "Theatre Review: 'On Clover Road' at Contemporary American Theater Festival". Maryland Theatre Guide.
  23. ^ "Spine: Review of 'On Clover Road' at Contemporary American Theater Festival". DCMetroTheaterArts. August 2015.
  24. ^ "Annual List of Most Produced Playwrights in America Reveals That... People Really Like Hitchcock?". The L Magazine. September 21, 2010.
  25. ^ Editors, American Theatre (July 24, 2018). "Steven Dietz to Leave Full-Time Faculty Position at UT Austin". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved December 27, 2019. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  26. ^ "Steven Dietz | Department of Theatre and Dance - The University of Texas at Austin". College of Fine Arts - University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  27. ^ "Celebrating Fifteen Years of New Play Development with UTNT – Department of Theatre and Dance Blog | College of Fine Arts | University of Texas at Austin".
  28. ^ Michael Kuchwara. "Dietz's Plays Pop Up Everywhere, but Only Occasionally on Broadway." (Baton Rouge LA) The Advocate, September 5, 2004, p. M9.
  29. ^ Farrington, Jan (February 7, 2019). "Review: Lonely Planet | Amphibian Stage Productions". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  30. ^ "On Clover Road by Steven Dietz". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  31. ^ Steven Dietz Four Plays for Family Audiences Plays by Steven Dietz; edited by Coleman A. Jennings, including comments by Linda Hartzell and Susan Mickey, foreword by Kim Peter Kovac. February 22, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  32. ^ (1) "Doom Eager: Writing What We Need to Know", (2) "Developed to Death", (3) "An Audience Manifesto" American Theatre9.n9(Jan 1993):9(1).Expanded , and (4) "A Modest Proposal: On Training Directors for the New Century." American Theatre Magazine archives Archived March 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Clawson, Kerry. "Review: None Too Fragile cast gets under skin with 'Yankee Tavern' conspiracy thriller". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  34. ^ "Palm Beach Arts Paper review of Yankee Tavern". Palm Beach Arts Paper. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011.
  35. ^ Kiley, Brendan. "The Oddities About 9/11 We Can't Explain Away". The Stranger. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  36. ^ "Review: Shooting Star". The Austin Chronicle. March 20, 2009.
  37. ^ "SHOOTING STAR". September 19, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  38. ^ Lynn Jacobson (October 27, 2008). "Review of Becky's New Car". Variety.
  39. ^ "Regional News & Review of Becky's New Car". Talkin' Broadway. October 30, 2008.
  40. ^ Juliet Wittman (November 7, 2013). "Comic illusions abound in Rancho Mirage". Westword.
  41. ^ "THEATER REVIEW Mad Beat Hip and Gone - Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive". Windy City Times. May 7, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  42. ^ "Everybody knows what happened to Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady in "On the Road," but now playwright Steven Dietz shows us what happened to the two guys in the car behind them". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  43. ^ BWW News Desk (May 6, 2015). "Steven Dietz's ON CLOVER ROAD and More Set for Contemporary American Theater Festival's 2015 Season".
  44. ^ "'Bloomsday' a Breathtaking Play About Time, Love, Regret and Fateful Decisions". WTTW News. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  45. ^ "'Bloomsday': lost love, Joyce and time travel". The Seattle Times. September 19, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  46. ^ Waits, Keith. "BWW Review: THIS RANDOM WORLD at the Humana Festival". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  47. ^ "Smith and Kraus Publishers | when the Promise was Broken". Archived from the original on August 19, 2018. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  48. ^ Miller, Elissa. "A Tale of Two Plays: "The Ghost of Splinter Cove" and R". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  49. ^ Toppman, Lawrence. "Review: To get the most out of these interlocking plays, you need to see them both". charlotteobserver. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  50. ^ "How a Boy Falls". February 2020.
  51. ^ "Review: 'How a Boy Falls' at Northlight Theatre is a tense, anxious thriller". Chicago Tribune.
  52. ^ Jones, Chris (April 26, 1999). "Force of Nature". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  53. ^ Pela, Robrt L. (October 23, 2003). "So Farce, So Good". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  54. ^ Tom Williams (February 16, 2004). " Review of Paragon Springs". TimeLine Theatre Company.
  55. ^ "'Honus and Me' brings the prolific playwright Dietz full circle in Seattle". Seattle P.I. March 31, 2006.
  56. ^ "The Theater Loop: Chicago Theater News & Reviews - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  57. ^ Irwin, Jay. "BWW Review: ACT's DRACULA a Chilling, Bloody Good Time". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  58. ^ Mee, Dewey. "'Dracula' at the ACT Theatre: Suburb, scary fun". Daily Record. Retrieved December 27, 2019.

External links[edit]