In 2008, when our program was moving to our now home, the idea to name our bunks not with numbers as had previously been the tradition, but with the names of playwrights was a no brainer. The original group of playwrights chosen represented classical and modern authors, from Chekhov (Anton) to Ruhl (Sarah). In 2018, we decided to update our cabin names to represent a broader array of playwrights, some whose work may be new to many campers. This group represents a diversity not just in the playwrights themselves, but also the styles of writing they create, as well as their social and artistic values.
Each summer, campers are assigned a bunk and together with their counselors and cabin mates they create a home under the banner of their playwright. Cheers and chants are shared, memories are created, and lifelong friendships are forged. However, we hope, that during all of this revelry, our campers walk away with a curiosity about the names they see daily on "The Hill" and might one day find themselves directing, designing, seeing, or performing in a play by an author with whom they have spent a wonderful summer of creativity and joy.
We invite you to meet our playwrights below and to take even a few moments to marvel at the breadth of influence and work they represent.
Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Her plays include: Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner); The Book of Grace; Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical; In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Venus (1996 OBIE Award); The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World; Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 OBIE Award, Best New American Play) ; The America Play. Her newest plays, Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)—set during the Civil War—were awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama as well as being a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist.
“History is time that won’t quit.”
Quiara Alegría Hudes is a playwright, strong wife and mother of two, Distinguished Professor at Wesleyan University, barrio feminist and native of West Philly, U.S.A. Hailed for her work’s exuberance, intellectual rigor, and rich imagination, her plays and musicals have been performed around the world. They include Water By the Spoonful, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; In the Heights, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and Pulitzer finalist; and Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, another Pulitzer finalist. Hudes is a playwright in residence at Signature Theater in New York, and Profile Theatre in Portland Oregon dedicated its 2017 season to producing her work. Hudes recently founded Emancipated Stories. It seeks to put a personal face on mass incarceration by having inmates share one page of their life story with the world.
“I’m half Puerto Rican and half Jewish and so, in some ways, living in many worlds at once is where I feel most at home.”
Caryl Churchill’s first professional play for the theater, entitled Owners, premiered at London’s Royal Court Theater. In 1974, she became Resident Dramatist of the Royal Court, for one year. Well into the 1980s, she worked with numerous theater companies, including Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment, producing such works as Cloud Nine, and A Mouthful of Birds, co-written with David Lan. In 2000 her play, Far Away, made its debut at the Royal Court, in the hands of illustrious director Stephen Daldry. In 2005, her revamp of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play made its way to the stage of the National Theater.
“We’ve got ninety-nine per cent the same genes as any other person. We’ve got ninety per cent the same as a chimpanzee. We’ve got thirty per cent the same as a lettuce. Does that cheer you up at all? I love about the lettuce. It makes me feel I belong.”
Chuck Mee has written Big Love, True Love and First Love; bobrauschenbergamerica and Hotel Cassiopeia; Orestes 2.0, Trojan Women: A Love Story; and Summertime and Wintertime, among other plays—all of them available on the Internet at www.charlesmee.org and as a free iPhone app. His plays have been performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, American Repertory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, Lincoln Center, the Humana Festival, Steppenwolf, and other places in the United States as well as in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Vienna, Istanbul and elsewhere.
“I am an old crippled white guy in love with a young Japanese-Canadian-American woman, and we talk about race and age and polio and disability, but race and disability do not consume our lives. Most of our lives are taken up with love and children and mortality and politics and literature—just like anyone else.”
Few writers have turned issues around ethnicity and identity into a widely acclaimed and award-winning career like David Henry Hwang. This Chinese American playwright, described by the New York Times as “a true original” and by Time magazine as “the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller,” is best known as the author of M. Butterfly. In late 2017 there was a Broadway revival of M. Butterfly, directed by Julie Taymor. His newest play with music, Soft Power, with composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), to be directed by frequent collaborator Leigh Silverman, premiered in early 2018 at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre.
“I define the American dream as the ability to imagine a way that you want your life to turn out, and have a reasonable hope that you can achieve that.”
María Irene Fornés was a Cuban-American avant garde playwright and director, who was a leading figure of the off-off-Broadway movement in the 1960s. Always an iconoclast, each of Fornés’s plays was its own world, all vastly different from each other. Whereas contemporary playwrights developed a signature style, the critical factor identifying a Fornés play is not tone or structure, but an intense, relentless and compassionate examination of the human condition—especially the way intimate personal relationships are affected and infected by economic conditions.
“If theater is to be successful it must be loved like one loves an animal that one wonders at. Not like one loves a formula. If people would love the theater like they love an animal, they would enjoy the theater and they would want to go to the theater. And if you asked them, ‘What is utopia?’ they would say, ‘Theater is utopia.’”
Itamar Moses is the author of the full-length plays Outrage, Bach at Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Yellowjackets, Back Back Back, Completeness and The Whistleblower; the musicals Nobody Loves You (with Gaby Alter), Fortress of Solitude (with Michael Friedman) and The Band’s Visit (with David Yazbek); and the evening of short plays Love/Stories (Or But You Will Get Used To It). He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and has taught playwriting at Yale and NYU. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. Born in Berkeley, CA, he now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
“Maybe it is my way of approaching truth: to state something I think is true, then figure out why it’s wrong, then try to find something more nuanced and figure out why that’s wrong -- and then to keep burrowing deeper into that. Playwriting is a form in which that’s just kind of how it works.”
Tony Kushner is an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. He co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film Munich, and he wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film Lincoln. Both movies were critically acclaimed, and he received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. He received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013. His other plays include Hydriotaphia, Slavs!: Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul, and the book for the musical Caroline, or Change.
“I’m a sort of political person, and I feel that there’s a kind of ineradicably political dimension to theater, to all theater, whether it’s overtly political or not.”
Lynn Nottage is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and a screenwriter. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Sweat moved to Broadway after a sold-out run at The Public Theater. Other plays include By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, Ruined, Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers and POOF!. Her recent play, Mlima’s Tale, premiered at the Public Theater in May 2018. She is working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on adapting her play Intimate Apparel into an opera, commissioned by The Met/LCT. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory.
“‘Nostalgia is a disease’, and I do believe that it’s a disease that many white Americans have. They’re holding on this notion of what America was, even though we know it never was that.”
Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York’s LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest play, The Who & The What, premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in February 2014, and opened in New York at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in June 2014. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.
“I see the American experience as being defined by the immigrant paradigm of rupture and renewal: rupture with the old world, the old ways, and renewal of the self in a bright but difficult New World.”
MJ Kaufman is a playwright and devised theater artist working in New York and Philadelphia. Their work has been seen at the Public Theater, Huntington Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, the New Museum, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Page73, Colt Coeur, Yale School of Drama, Lark Play Development Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theater, Crowded Fire, Fresh Ink Theatre, InterAct Theater, New Harmony Project and performed in Russian in Moscow.
“On Shabbat I remember to pray for enough space inside of me to hold all the darkness of the night and all the sunlight of the day. I pray for enough space for transformations as miraculous as the shift from day to night... I go to visit my best friend’s sister-turned-brother-turned-sister-again and she tells me about the blessing of having many names and using them all at once.”