Dan O’Brien


Dan O'BrienDan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, and librettist. His play, The Body of an American, received an off-Broadway premiere at Primary Stages, in a co-production with Hartford Stage, in 2016. The Body of an American is the winner of the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, the L. Arnold Weissberger Award, and was shortlisted for the Evening Standard’s Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright. The play premiered at Portland Center Stage, directed by Bill Rauch, and received its European premiere in an extended run at the Gate Theatre in London in 2014, in a co-production with Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton, England, directed by James Dacre.  O’Brien is currently under commission from Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles to write a play about Syria, ISIS, and Hollywood, an American Revolutions joint-commission from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater on the history of guns in America, and a commission from Portland Center Stage. He is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Drama & Performance Art. Dan O’Brien: Plays One is forthcoming from Oberon Books in London.

O’Brien’s third collection of poetry, New Life, was published by CB Editions in London in 2015, and by Hanging Loose Press in Brooklyn in 2016. His second collection, Scarsdale, was published by CB Editions in 2014, and in the US by Measure Press in 2015. War Reporter, his debut collection, was published in 2013 by CB Editions, and by Hanging Loose Press in the US. War Reporter received the 2013 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Foundation’s Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, both in the UK. O’Brien’s poems have appeared internationally in journals, magazines, and newspapers including 32 Poems, 5 AM, 10Tal, Ambit, Bare Fiction, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cold Mountain Review, Crab Orchard Review, Cyphers, Event, Geist Magazine, Grain Magazine, Greensboro Review, Hanging Loose, Linebreak, Magma Poetry, Malahat Review, Missouri Review, The Moth, Nimrod, North American Review, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Saint Anne’s Review, South Carolina Review, Southwest Review, St. Petersburg Review, Stand, The Stinging Fly,storySouth, Sunday Times, Tampa Review, upstreet, War, Literature & the Arts, The White Review, Yale Review, and ZYZZYVA.

O’Brien wrote the libretti for Jonathan Berger’s Visitations: Theotokia & The War Reporter, two chamber operas commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mellon Foundation for Stanford Live, premiering at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in 2013, and at the Prototype Festival in NYC in 2014, directed by Rinde Eckert. An earlier version of Theotokia premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA, performed by Dawn Upshaw.

Previous regional and off-Broadway play productions include The Cherry Sisters Revisited (Humana Festival, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, directed by Andrew Leynse, original music by Michael Friedman), The Dear Boy (Second Stage Theatre, Michael John Garcés), The Voyage of the Carcass (SoHo Playhouse; Page 73 Productions, Alyse Rothman), Moving Picture (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Darko Tresnjak), The House in Hydesville (Geva Theatre Center, Skip Greer), Key West (Geva Theatre Center, Skip Greer), Kandahar to Canada (Ensemble Studio Theatre, Mark Armstrong), Am Lit (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Angel in the Trees (Production Company, Mark Armstrong), and Lamarck (Perishable Theatre).

O’Brien’s plays have been developed at Primary Stages, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, New Harmony Project, Atlantic Theater Company, Roundabout Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Magic Theatre, The Play Company, Rattlestick, Lark Theatre, Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab, PlayLabs at the Playwrights’ Center, JAW Festival at Portland Center Stage, and Manhattan Theatre Club, where he was a playwright-in-residence. He has received commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Geva Theatre Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre / Sloan Foundation, Trinity Repertory Company, the Playwrights’ Center’s National Residency and Commission; and residencies and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship, Yaddo, a Sundance Institute Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship, a TCG Future Collaborations Grant, a James Merrill House Residency, the Djerassi Fellowship in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Tennessee Williams Playwright-in-residence at The University of the South (Sewanee), the New Harmony Project, and the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Awards include the Osborn Award for an Emerging Playwright by the American Theatre Critics Association, the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Comedy Playwriting Award, the National Student Playwriting Award, and the National AIDS Award for Playwriting (Kennedy Center / ACTF). His plays are published by Samuel French, Oberon, Playscripts, Dramatic Publishing, and in numerous anthologies and literary magazines including Alaska Quarterly Review and Blackbird.

O’Brien has taught playwriting at Princeton University, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The University of the South (Sewanee), University of Wisconsin-Madison, SUNY Purchase, Grinnell College, and in his own private workshop in New York City. He holds a BA in English & Theatre from Middlebury College and an MFA in Playwriting & Fiction from Brown University. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor, writer, and producer Jessica St. Clair, and their daughter Isobel.Dan O'Brien