Steven Dietz (born June 23, 1958) is an American playwright. With the exception of "Fiction", produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company in 2004, the vast majority of Dietz's plays are produced in American regional theaters. During the 2015-16 season, Dietz premiered three new plays: "Bloomsday" (American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award Citation), "This Random World" (Humana Festival of New American Plays), and the thriller "On Clover Road" (National New Play Network rolling world premiere). In 2010, Dietz was once again named one of the most produced playwrights in America (excluding Shakespeare), placing eighth on the list of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in America, tied with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for number of productions. Other recent plays include the black comedy, "Rancho Mirage", and the contemporary riff on Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" entitled "American la Ronde". Dietz has taught in the MFA Playwriting and Directing programs at the University of Texas at Austin since 2006 . In addition, he is a Dramatists Guild "Traveling Master", teaching workshops and master classes on playwriting and story-making around the U.S.
Life and career
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Dietz graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Northern Colorado, 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. He now divides his time between Seattle and Austin, Texas where he teaches playwriting and directing at the University of Texas at Austin.
He is the recipient of the PEN U.S.A. Award in Drama (for Lonely Planet, perhaps his most widely performed work); 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 Shinbun 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. Seattle's ACT Theatre has premiered/produced 11 plays by Dietz, including the world premiere of Bloomsday, directed by Kurt Beattie. 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. 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—have been widely discussed and re-printed.
Original plays (by year of first production)
- 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)
- 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)
- Shooting Star(2008)
- Becky's New Car (2008)
- Rancho Mirage (2012)
- On Clover Road (2015)
- Bloomsday (2015)
- This Random World (2016)
Plays adapted from other sources
- The Rememberer (1994) (from the unpublished memoirs of Joyce Simmons Cheeka)
- Silence (1995) (from Shusaku Endo's novel)
- Dracula (1996) (from Bram Stoker)
- Force of Nature (1999) (after Elective Affinities by Goethe)
- Go, Dog. Go! (2003) (from P.D. Eastman) – a musical adaptation co-written with his wife, Allison Gregory.
- Over The Moon (2003) (after "The Small Bachelor" by P.G. Wodehouse)
- Paragon Springs (2004) (from "An Enemy of the People" by Ibsen)
- Honus and Me (2005) (from Dan Gutman)
- Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (2006) (from William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle)
- Jackie and Me (from Dan Gutman)
- American la Ronde (from Arthur Schnitzler's 1900 play, "Reigen", or "La Ronde"La Ronde (play))
- "Arts review: Skillfully unraveling the truth in a play called 'Fiction'". The Augusta Chronicle. July 26, 2004.
- Andrew White (July 13, 2015). "Theatre Review: ‘On Clover Road’ at Contemporary American Theater Festival". Maryland Theatre Guide.
- "Spine: Review of 'On Clover Road' at Contemporary American Theater Festival". DCMetroTheaterArts.
- "Annual List of Most Produced Playwrights in America Reveals That... People Really Like Hitchcock?". The L Magazine.
- "'Rancho Mirage' at Olney Theatre Center by Amanda Gunther". DCMetroTheaterArts.
- (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
- "Palm Beach Arts Paper review of Yankee Tavern". Palm Beach Arts Paper.
- "Review: Shooting Star". The Austin Chronicle. March 20, 2009.
- Lynn Jacobson (October 27, 2008). "Review of Becky's New Car". Variety.
- "Regional News & Review of Becky's New Car". Talkin' Broadway. October 30, 2008.
- Juliet Wittman (November 7, 2013). "Comic illusions abound in Rancho Mirage". Westword.
- BWW News Desk (May 6, 2015). "Steven Dietz's ON CLOVER ROAD and More Set for Contemporary American Theater Festival's 2015 Season". BroadwayWorld.com.
- Tom Williams (February 16, 2004). "Chicagocritic.com Review of Paragon Springs". TimeLine Theatre Company.
- "'Honus and Me' brings the prolific playwright Dietz full circle in Seattle". Seattle P.I. March 31, 2006.
- University of Texas at Austin page on Steven Dietz
- University of Texas Press, 'Steven Dietz: Four Plays for Family Audiences'
- "Renowned playwright Steven Dietz's influence is heavy in D-FW scene" - Dallas Morning News
- "Being Prolific Has Its Own Rewards" - Austin American Statesman profile
- "Working Playwright" - Austin Chronicle article by Robert Faires
- "Brick Solid" - Seattle Weekly article by John Longenbaugh
- Faculty page at University of Texas
- March 2003 Interview with Steven Dietz from Theatrescene.net
- Playbill's Brief Encounter with Steven Dietz
- Information on Steven Dietz by doollee.com
- Bibliography at goodreads.com
- Director and Playwright Discuss Last of the Boys, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
- Michael D. Mitchell Bio and discussion of Sherlock Holmes adaptation in "Understudy", a guide to plays at Fulton, 2007.