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Carson Kreitzer

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Core Writers 2009 //  McKnight Advancement Grants 2009 //  Core Writers 2008 //  Core Writers 2010 //  Core Writers 2011 //  Core Writers 2012 //  Core Writers 2013   

Carson Kreitzer's plays include The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, SELF DEFENSE or death of some salesmen, 1:23, Flesh and the Desert, The Slow Drag (New York and London), Freakshow, Slither, Dead Wait, and Take My Breath Away, featured in BAM's 1997 Next Wave Festival. Her plays have been produced or developed by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Public Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, Portland Center Stage, Perishable Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Mabou Mines, Frank Theatre, the Actors Gang, and Next Theatre, among others. She is currently working with composer Matt Gould on a musical inspired by art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka, commissioned by Yale Rep and New Dramatists through Full Stage USA, and a commission for Marin Theatre Company and the National New Play Network. Grants: NYFA, NYSCA, the NEA, TCG, the Jerome and McKnight Foundations, Loewe Award in Music-Theatre, and the first Playwrights Of New York (PONY) Fellowship at the Lark Play Development Center. B.A.: Yale University. M.F.A.: Michener Center for Writers, UT Austin. Ms. Kreitzer is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, an associated artist with Clubbed Thumb and New Georges, and a member of the Workhaus Collective, the Playwrights' Center and the Dramatists Guild. Behind the Eye, her new play about surrealist muse and WWII combat photographer Lee Miller, premiered at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, directed by Mark Wing-Davey, and supported by a grant from the NEA New Play Development Program. Her collection SELF DEFENSE and other plays is now available from NoPassport Press. More information at

Search for published plays by Carson Kreitzer...

Flesh and the Desert

Flesh and the Desert is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Las Vegas. We follow the intertwined stories of three couples: one ghostly, one long-lasting, and one just starting tonight. Along the way we meet Elvis and Liberace, slot machines and Siberian white tigers, and of course, those glittering creatures, the Showgirls. The Eye in the Sky watches, the mirrorball spins. As long as you’re gambling, the drinks are free. Welcome, Conventioneers.

Workhaus Collective at the Playwrights' Center (2012). Festival Production: SPF (2007). University production: UT Austin (2005). Originally commissioned by Clubbed Thumb.

Behind the Eye


Lee Miller could have stayed home in Poughkeepsie. Instead, she lived a life most only dream of. Man Ray's lover and muse, her body—or parts of it—would become iconic of surrealism, but Paris was only one stop on a journey that would include Egypt, London, and the front lines of World War II. Behind the Eye traces the path of this extraordinary woman as she discovers the only thing she cannot be: still.

This powerful new play by Core Writer Carson Kreitzer was commissioned by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where it received its world premiere, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. It received a $90,000 grant from the NEA for final development and production.

To find out more about Behind the Eye, read the Dialogue interview!

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (2011)

"Kreitzer's writing, muscular and sharp, requires close attention and the result is thoroughly rewarding."
—Rick Pender, CityBeat

"Behind the Eye is a Playhouse stunner."  —Jackie Demaline, the Cincinnati Enquirer

Be Here Now

A modern-day riff on Chekhov's Three Sisters.

To Moscow! Or New Zealand, a new romance, a home that feels like home. Get away, or find a way to fix what we've got. Catch the wave, or the right moment. Breathe it in. Be here now.

The Guthrie Theater (2008). Published in Dramatics Magazine, April, 2009.


An investigation of women who kill their children: Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, and Juana Leija.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (2007). Workshopped with Labyrinth Theater Company; read at the Public Theatre in LAByrinth’s Barn Series. 

"Kreitzer's play transcends the sensational and instead sheds light on the psyches and circumstances that have made inconceivable acts a reality." – Rick Pender, Citybeat

"1:23 is not for the faint-hearted.  But it also is likely to leave the brave with tremors, followed by tears." —Jerry Stein, The  Cincinnati Post



A history of women and snakes, from Eve to a present-day Holiness Church snake handler.

Chalk Rep, Los Angeles (2012). Commissioned and produced by Eye of the Storm Theatre (2003), through the NEA/TCG residency program for playwrights.

The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer

"Do I dare disturb the Universe?" Jews, Commies, Spies, and the soft-spoken man who became the destroyer of worlds, then had his security clearance revoked.

Winner, Rosenthal New Play Prize, Stavis Award, and American Theater Critics’ Steinberg New Play Citation. Produced at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (2003), Frank Theatre, Minneapolis (2003), Next Theatre, Chicago (2005), Actors Express, Atlanta (2005). Developed in a residency at the Playwrights' Center; originally commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts. Published in Smith and Kraus' New Playwrights: Best Plays 2004, and by Dramatic Publishing.

"Kreitzer has a huge vision … Oppenheimer is superb theater." —The Cincinnati Enquirer

"So much brilliance, ambivalence, ego, history, myth, science, moral argument, emotional heat, poetry and sheer dazzling theatricality are compressed into the mere two hours it takes for Carson Kreitzer's The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer to detonate on the stage … that by the time it is all over, you might easily feel you’ve been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation." —Chicago Sun-Times

Self Defense, or death of some salesmen

Seven white men have been found dead along I-95 in Florida. A prostitute is arrested and charged with their murders. The police say she's a serial killer. She claims seven separate acts of self-defense.

Perishable Theater (2001), Frank Theatre at The Playwrights Center (2002), New Georges and Reverie Productions at HERE Arts Center, NYC (2002),  The Actors Gang, LA (2004), Steppenwolf Garage, Chicago (2004). Developed in residencies with Mabou Mines, The Playwrights' Center, and A.S.K. Theatre Projects; originally commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts. Published in Smith and Kraus' Women Playwrights: Best Plays of 2002 and by Playscripts.

"The play moves like lightning, cutting through a series of brief scenes that illuminate the story in puzzle-piece and surprisingly funny ... Insightful, engaging, witty, earnest ... Self Defense is socially-conscious drama at its best." —Brooke Pierce, TheaterMania

"Stunning and compelling ... raw and bold, brutal and ironic, and full of nagging questions. Whereas the film Monster dealt with the more sensational aspects of Wuornos' Florida killing spree, Self Defense ... lashes out at the twisted society that turned her trial into simply another media-driven circus." —Ed Kaufman, The Hollywood Reporter

"Like a playful documentary filmmaker, Kreitzer treads along various genres: police story, courtroom drama, confessional monologue, and feminist tract ... Kreitzer's smart, gritty script whips between locations, interlacing scenes and providing multiple perspectives." —David Cale, Time Out New York 

"The West Coast premiere of Carson Kreitzer's 2001 fantasia about executed murderer Aileen Wuornos is stunning, true political theater with a visceral punch." —David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times



A traveling sideshow grinds to a halt at the turn of the previous century.

Clubbed Thumb at HERE (1999).  Published in Playscripts' "Funny, Strange, Provocative: Seven Plays from Clubbed Thumb". 

The Slow Drag

A Jazz Play

A jazz cabaret about a woman who passed as a man to play the music she loved.

New York: The American Place Theatre (1996). London: The Freedom Theater, Soho (1997), and The Whitehall Theatre, West End (1997 & 1998).

"M. Butterfly with a cool beat." —Greg Evans, Variety

"Kreitzer has crafted a haunting and mesmeric epitaph for Tipton and the whole world of postwar jazz on the road." —Sheridan Morley, International Herald Tribune 

"Theatreland is currently obsessed with necrophilia, disinterring the remains of the famous. Kreitzer, however, bucks the graverobbing trend by eschewing the dull chronological trawl and opting for fiction.  Nor is she content merely to discover how such an explosive secret could be kept.  Instead, she takes the conundrum and treats it like a diamond, constantly cutting it to show different facets of this fascinating tale." —David Benedict, The Independent

"Like the music at its heart, The Slow Drag is nimble, soulful and full of life." —Sara Abdulla, Time Out London

Dead Wait


Two dead waiters and Jayne Mansfield in Limbo.  A meditation on being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Winner of Perishable Theater's Women's Playwriting Festival, 1999. Presented by Clubbed Thumb at HERE (1997),  The Actors Gang, LA (2004),  Emigrant Theater, Minneapolis (2005). Published by Playscripts.

"Diverting and much funnier than its ghoulish outlines might suggest."—Quinton Skinner, City Pages

"Take two murdered waiters and one langorous dead movie sexpot and put them in a heavenly antechamber… add lines like ‘You know what being dead is like if you've ever waited tables,' and you've got one of the must-see productions of this year's Fringe Festival."—Deborah Caulfield Ryback, Star Tribune

Heroin/e (Keep Us Quiet)


Intertwining monologues from two women at either side of this century: one commits suicide, the other homicide.

Tiny Mythic Theatre at  HERE (1995), Clubbed Thumb at the House of Candles (1996), Screaming Venus at the Camera Obscura (2000).

Valerie Shoots Andy


An assassination fantasia. 

Reverie Productions at The Present Company Theatorium (2001), 40 Feet Under at The American Place Theatre (1993). 

"A good ol' fashioned pop art happening—as invigorating, infuriating, prophetic, and numbing as those damned soup cans."—Citysearch

"A unique and unforgettable show."—Backstage

"Coolly witty."—New York Post

"Bleak but fascinating."—New York Times

Lasso of Truth

[ in development ]

A new play about William Marsden, inventor of both the lie detector machine and Wonder Woman (yes, both...), and the women he loved.

Lasso of Truth is a commission for Marin Theatre Company and the National New Play Network.


[ in development ]

With composer Matt Gould. A new musical inspired by the life of Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka.

Commissioned by Yale Rep and New Dramatists. 

Runway 69

[ in development ]

With composer Erin Kamler.

Runway 69 is the story of one of the raunchiest strip clubs in New York, seen through song on the eve of the clean-up that transformed Times Square. Michelle, the new girl, learns the ropes while finding herself increasingly drawn to the volatile, troubled beauty, Josmine. Michelle's customer, Dave, has secrets of his own: he’s an undercover cop, sent in to shut the place down.

Runway 69 received the Loewe Award in Music Theater, and will receive development this summer as part of Berkeley Rep's new Ground Floor.

Lasso of Truth


Core Writer Carson Kreitzer will be in the Lab workshopping her play LASSO OF TRUTH. The workshop will end with a public reading of the play - come join us! No ticket or RSVP necessary.

Director: Peter Rothstein
Video Designer: David Steinman
Cast: Annie Enneking, Mo Perry, John Riedlinger, Luverne Seifert, Anna Sundberg

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