Stephen Spotswood

Stephen Spotswood

Stephen Spotswood is a DC-based playwright, educator, and journalist. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Catholic University in 2009. He is a member of Forum Theatre's artist ensemble and a member of the second generation of The Welders playwrights' collective. He has several tattoos, an elderly cat named Mulder, and writes almost exclusively female protagonists. You can follow him on Instagram...
Stephen Spotswood is a DC-based playwright, educator, and journalist. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Catholic University in 2009. He is a member of Forum Theatre's artist ensemble and a member of the second generation of The Welders playwrights' collective. He has several tattoos, an elderly cat named Mulder, and writes almost exclusively female protagonists. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @playwrightsteve.

Plays

  • GIRL IN THE RED CORNER
    Unemployed, fresh off a dead-end marriage, and searching for a way to take control of her life, Halo walks into a gym and signs up for mixed martial arts lessons. Her trainer thinks she’s a light-weight. Her mother and sister think it’s just plain weird. Very quickly the lessons she learns in the ring bleed into the rest of her life and Halo finds herself battling against everyone around her. As she prepares...
    Unemployed, fresh off a dead-end marriage, and searching for a way to take control of her life, Halo walks into a gym and signs up for mixed martial arts lessons. Her trainer thinks she’s a light-weight. Her mother and sister think it’s just plain weird. Very quickly the lessons she learns in the ring bleed into the rest of her life and Halo finds herself battling against everyone around her. As she prepares for her first match, Halo realizes that life inside the cage and outside the cage are disturbingly similar. And that the only way to survive either is to fight.
  • DOUBLEWIDE
    Jim Starkey's version of the American Dream is a modest one: to build a home on his one-acre plot of land, replacing his doublewide trailer with something his daughter, Lorelai, can eventually inherit. When a highway expansion project threatens that plan, Jim finds himself reluctantly thrust into the public eye. Meanwhile, Lorelai is trying to discover what she wants her future to look like. Will it look...
    Jim Starkey's version of the American Dream is a modest one: to build a home on his one-acre plot of land, replacing his doublewide trailer with something his daughter, Lorelai, can eventually inherit. When a highway expansion project threatens that plan, Jim finds himself reluctantly thrust into the public eye. Meanwhile, Lorelai is trying to discover what she wants her future to look like. Will it look like her parents' or something very different. And will the world let her have a choice in the matter. Two accidents—one occurring during a teenage tryst, the other during a hunting trip—throw a dark shadow over the family’s future. Jim is left wondering what happened to his now-broken dream, while Lorelai is left to build her own future out of the pieces.
  • IN THE FOREST, SHE GREW FANGS
    Lucy spends her days being tormented and mocked and ghosting through the halls of her high school. At 16, she's come to believe her life will never get better. Her grandmother, Ruth, knows something is wrong, but can’t bridge the gulf between herself and her quiet granddaughter. Then Jenny arrives--a California transplant so out of place in the rural town that she draws everyone’s eye. That includes...
    Lucy spends her days being tormented and mocked and ghosting through the halls of her high school. At 16, she's come to believe her life will never get better. Her grandmother, Ruth, knows something is wrong, but can’t bridge the gulf between herself and her quiet granddaughter. Then Jenny arrives--a California transplant so out of place in the rural town that she draws everyone’s eye. That includes Hunter, one of Lucy's regular tormenters, who immediately becomes infatuated with the newcomer. But Jenny has problems of her own—a manipulative ex-boyfriend and a reputation she's trying to escape. When Lucy nearly drowns during a trip to a forest lake and Jenny saves her, Lucy finds a new reason for living. But unbeknownst to Lucy, there’s an old evil living in that lake—something that finds a home in Lucy. Soon, howls are being heard from the forest and night, and Lucy dreams of chasing things through the forest; dreams where it’s someone else who’s the prey. Also, her feelings for Jenny grow from fascination to infatuation to something deeper. Hunter makes the first move on Jenny, and Ruth is hospitalized after a heart attack, which pushes Lucy to embrace the monster growing inside her. The play reaches its climax at the Halloween dance, where Lucy takes revenge on everyone who ever tormented her. A bloody deconstruction of Little Red Riding Hood, the play takes the familiar elements of werewolves, teen lust, and high school bullies, experimenting with the question of just who’s the victim and who's the monster.
  • SKIN AND THE NOVEMBER SKY
    Harry has never gotten along with other human beings, and so has spent his entire life retreating from society and immersing himself in his paintings. Gwen, Harry’s latest model, lost the use of her legs as a child. Newly arrived in the city, this is her first attempt to create an autonomous life in what she is finding to be a hostile world. Set in the Washington, D.C. of the 1980s—when no one knew the word...
    Harry has never gotten along with other human beings, and so has spent his entire life retreating from society and immersing himself in his paintings. Gwen, Harry’s latest model, lost the use of her legs as a child. Newly arrived in the city, this is her first attempt to create an autonomous life in what she is finding to be a hostile world. Set in the Washington, D.C. of the 1980s—when no one knew the word “Asperger’s”, the Americans With Disabilities Act was still in the future, and the city was on its way to becoming the murder capital of the country—the play follows Harry and Gwen’s relationship from their disastrous last meeting to their unlikely first. Over the course of the play, we see how they help each other negotiate difficult social and emotional terrain. In Harry’s case, that means learning to come to terms with his sexuality and figuring out how to take his art to the next level. In Gwen’s case, it’s discovering who she is now that she’s separated from insular childhood and a toxic relationship, and learning the self-confidence to pursue a career as a musician. The play peels back the layers of their relationship and culminates in a moment of shared pain that plants the seed for what would become a strong and strange friendship.
  • THE GANTRY GIRLS COME HOME
    The Gantry sisters somehow managed to survive their strange, violent youth: poverty, a mentally ill mother, sexual and emotional abuse. When they return home to be at their mother’s deathbed, they begin to unearth old crimes—ones that threaten to tear their family apart unless they figure out how to bury the bodies for good. --a 2015 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist
  • WE TIRESIAS
    Before he became the blind seer tasked with bearing other people’s bad news, Tiresias lived an epic tale all his own. After an affair with a priestess of Hera ends in disaster, turning him into a fugitive, he thinks he understands the meaning of tragedy. But when Hera catches up with him, and curses him to live life as a woman, he discovers he doesn’t know the first thing about sacrifice. A reimagining of...
    Before he became the blind seer tasked with bearing other people’s bad news, Tiresias lived an epic tale all his own. After an affair with a priestess of Hera ends in disaster, turning him into a fugitive, he thinks he understands the meaning of tragedy. But when Hera catches up with him, and curses him to live life as a woman, he discovers he doesn’t know the first thing about sacrifice. A reimagining of ancient myth, WE TIRESIAS tells the story of one soul trying to escape the whims of the gods.
  • BURIED UNDER A BLACKBIRD SKY
    Twenty-five years ago, Eve ran away from her hometown of Aaronsville, escaping an abusive home life and a fraught romantic relationship with her best friend, Samantha. As an adult—and one of the world’s premiere forensic anthropologists—she finds herself driven to return, tasked with examining the remains of an ancient skeleton discovered on church property. Eve wants to do her job and escape a second time...
    Twenty-five years ago, Eve ran away from her hometown of Aaronsville, escaping an abusive home life and a fraught romantic relationship with her best friend, Samantha. As an adult—and one of the world’s premiere forensic anthropologists—she finds herself driven to return, tasked with examining the remains of an ancient skeleton discovered on church property. Eve wants to do her job and escape a second time, but is drawn deep into her own past, helped along by a father desperate for forgiveness and the church’s minister—her one-time love, Samantha. The play draws past and present together, weaving the loving beginning and violent end of Eve and Samantha's love with Eve's present-day investigation and her confrontation with her own past.
  • SISTERS OF ELLERY HOLLOW
    Elsie and Abby have led a hard, strange childhood, secreted away in the remote town of Ellery Hollow. Orphaned at a young age, they face a populace that hates and fears them, and the only people that understand or care for them are those few who are even more of an outsider than they are. But Elsie and Abby have learned to cope by translating their lives into a series of tall tales: from their impossible birth...
    Elsie and Abby have led a hard, strange childhood, secreted away in the remote town of Ellery Hollow. Orphaned at a young age, they face a populace that hates and fears them, and the only people that understand or care for them are those few who are even more of an outsider than they are. But Elsie and Abby have learned to cope by translating their lives into a series of tall tales: from their impossible birth to their adoption by the strangest of caretakers, to an eventual confrontation with the Hairy Man of the Forest—a terrible creature with a secret that threatens to destroy their tiny family.
  • THE LAST BURLESQUE
    Darcy spent her childhood roaming the backstage of Val and Vera’s Valley of Burlesque, Sideshow, and Assorted Mischief while her parents performed to the delight of sold-out houses. But after Val’s death, and an inevitable estrangement from Vera, she’s spent her adulthood staying as far away as possible. When she discovers the Valley is on the verge of bankruptcy, Darcy is drawn back to the place she used to...
    Darcy spent her childhood roaming the backstage of Val and Vera’s Valley of Burlesque, Sideshow, and Assorted Mischief while her parents performed to the delight of sold-out houses. But after Val’s death, and an inevitable estrangement from Vera, she’s spent her adulthood staying as far away as possible. When she discovers the Valley is on the verge of bankruptcy, Darcy is drawn back to the place she used to call home. There she finds old friends with problems of their own, a new lover who insists on pushing Darcy’s boundaries, and a mother struggling not to let her down. But will she find what she’s really looking for? This play offers the opportunity for producers to blend theatre, sideshow, magic, and burlesque into a sexy, dangerous drama. The script encourages the use of trans and gender-fluid actors.
  • OFF A BROKEN ROAD
    In a country coming out of a long war, there’s a small town: isolated, battered, and on the losing side. Here, courage does not come from the heart, but is picked and processed and sold by the ounce. But this town’s Courage ran out long ago. And now its citizens are being forced to take refugees into their homes–people whose country their soldiers were fighting just a few months ago. Winners and losers–the dead...
    In a country coming out of a long war, there’s a small town: isolated, battered, and on the losing side. Here, courage does not come from the heart, but is picked and processed and sold by the ounce. But this town’s Courage ran out long ago. And now its citizens are being forced to take refugees into their homes–people whose country their soldiers were fighting just a few months ago. Winners and losers–the dead, the living, and the lost–will be forced to overcome their fears. Or let the war begin again. Originally developed with Imagination Stage's New Works Performance Ensemble and later adapted for The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts teen program, this play has had multiple productions using an all-teen cast. The role of Jackie, though referred to as "Mom" by her daughter can be, and has been, played as a man.
  • DRESSING BOBBY STRONG
    It’s Constance’s first time dressing the deceased in her new job as funeral director’s apprentice and the body on her table is Bobby, a long-lost friend from high school. As she helps Bobby into his last suit of clothes, she remembers why he was one of the few bright spots during a traumatic time in her life. A sweet, sad story about love and mortality. "Playwright Stephen Spotswood does an outstanding...
    It’s Constance’s first time dressing the deceased in her new job as funeral director’s apprentice and the body on her table is Bobby, a long-lost friend from high school. As she helps Bobby into his last suit of clothes, she remembers why he was one of the few bright spots during a traumatic time in her life. A sweet, sad story about love and mortality. "Playwright Stephen Spotswood does an outstanding job mixing personal revelations about high school, family, and the nature of love in Dressing Bobby Strong. Every little detail is finely stitched together like an artisan’s embroidery. The work adroitly mixes gentle humor and wistful regret." - Steven McKnight, DCTheatrescene
  • Light Severed From A Star
    Standing in their backyard, staring up at a winter-clear sky filled with stars, Charlotte and Tara listen to a recording of their unborn baby's heartbeat. Recent tragedy has turned joy into heartbreak and the two struggle with how to take the next impossible step forward.
  • DISSECTION
    When their decade-long relationship comes to an end, MAGGIE begins the bloody, heart-wrenching process of dissecting their years together in an attempt to prove that JENNIFER ever loved her in the first place. But when she slips her scalpel in, she finds far more than she bargained for.
  • A CREATION STORY FOR NAOMI
    Naomi Birdsong-Schultz, daughter of a lapsed Jew and a half-Ute flight attendant, is a brilliant 16-year old searching for her place in the world. When her usually peaceful sleep is plagued by images of her long-dead grandfather, she turns to her online friends for help. This begins a journey through the world’s creation myths and into Naomi’s own history. But one of her cyber-friends isn’t who he says he is,...
    Naomi Birdsong-Schultz, daughter of a lapsed Jew and a half-Ute flight attendant, is a brilliant 16-year old searching for her place in the world. When her usually peaceful sleep is plagued by images of her long-dead grandfather, she turns to her online friends for help. This begins a journey through the world’s creation myths and into Naomi’s own history. But one of her cyber-friends isn’t who he says he is, and is determined to force Naomi to answer those difficult questions and face her fears about growing up.
  • THE MAN IN THE POWDER-BLUE SUIT
    Naomi remembers the moment her childhood came to an end. On a roadtrip through the Arizona desert with her parents, little Naomi meets a man who will teach her about Heaven, Hell, and the fragility of life. "Spotswood does what the ten-minute play does best: capture a small moment perfectly." -- Tim Treanor, DCTheatrescene, reviewing the play's premiere at the 2013 Source Festival
  • THE VALIANT MISTER TAYLOR
    When Mister Taylor moves into his new room at Pleasant Acres, he finds a retirement home under siege. The villains come in the form of obnoxious residents and uncaring staff. When asked to help do something about it, he has to find a way to replace his lost strength and speed with hard-won cunning and guile. An adaptation of the German fairy tale, The Valiant Little Tailor, for seniors.
  • WOMEN FOLK
    Lucy Bunyan (wife of Paul Bunyan) is sick of being left out while her husband goes off and has adventures. She needs to find a way to carve her own niche in America's folk history. She goes to her best friends Nancy Appleseed and Sue, wife of Pecos Bill, to help figure out what to do. They might just save the Bunyan's marriage. If they don't kill each other first. This was commissioned by...
    Lucy Bunyan (wife of Paul Bunyan) is sick of being left out while her husband goes off and has adventures. She needs to find a way to carve her own niche in America's folk history. She goes to her best friends Nancy Appleseed and Sue, wife of Pecos Bill, to help figure out what to do. They might just save the Bunyan's marriage. If they don't kill each other first. This was commissioned by Roundhouse Theatre to be performed by the Heyday Players, their company of senior citizen acting students.
  • Quiet, We're Playing Theatre
    It's lunch break during tech weekend and the children of the cast and crew take over the empty stage to put on a show of their own. A sharp-witted, family-friendly dissection of the stereotypes and conceits of modern theatre that highlights the gulf between putting on a play and the simple joy of playing.