Sheila Cowley

Sheila Cowley

Sheila Cowley is a playwright whose work continues to embrace other artforms, creating theatre that celebrates voice, movement, sound, visual art and circus artistry. It’s theatre that asks big questions – about gender roles and family, and tiny daily acts of heroism.

Her play Flying, about women who flew military planes in WWII after they get sent home to get back to normal, was a Featured...
Sheila Cowley is a playwright whose work continues to embrace other artforms, creating theatre that celebrates voice, movement, sound, visual art and circus artistry. It’s theatre that asks big questions – about gender roles and family, and tiny daily acts of heroism.

Her play Flying, about women who flew military planes in WWII after they get sent home to get back to normal, was a Featured Finalist in Chicago’s Blue Ink Festival 2017, part of the Austin Playhouse Festival of New American Plays and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, with Equity productions in upstate NY and Tampa Bay. In 2018, Trio will premiere in Austin with commedia dell’arte performers and her intimate drama Stay will be onstage in Charleston SC.

Sheila’s working now on scripts that combine text and movement, collaborating with dancers and visual artists. She’ll be workshopping The Burlesque Astronomy Play at Phoenix Theatre’s Festival of New American Theatre 2018 just before Air-Earth-Fire-Water, a dance-theatre series based on science, debuts as a commission for the GASP! Fringe Festival. The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance named her the city’s Literary Muse 2018 and Creative Pinellas just chose her as a 2018 Professional Artist Fellow.

Plays

  • Flying
    Susan flew military planes in WWII, so men could go and fight. Now she’s been sent home to get back to normal, while the town waits for her local hero husband to come home.

    Flying looks at life propelled by stories, as the town tells glory tales of Bob and Susan tries to put away her memories of flying.

    Susan uses Bob’s legend to keep his family airfield going, so when his...
    Susan flew military planes in WWII, so men could go and fight. Now she’s been sent home to get back to normal, while the town waits for her local hero husband to come home.

    Flying looks at life propelled by stories, as the town tells glory tales of Bob and Susan tries to put away her memories of flying.

    Susan uses Bob’s legend to keep his family airfield going, so when his wounded gunner shows up looking for a job, she’s forced to hire him. Fisher struggles with an artificial leg and an airfield run by women, as the stories of the town reveal Susan through what they leave out. 

    The background of this play is drawn from oral histories and memoirs of women who served in the WASP program in WWII. It explores the aftermath of war and the quiet, daily acts of heroism that never earn a medal. . .

    "Our strongest ever season opening weekend at the box office since we started the company in 2007." And set two records for talkback attendance. - Bill Lelbach, Chenango River Theatre. . .

    "This show is relevant and timely in so many ways. It gently sears and stays with you." - Robin Gordon, Tampa Repertory Theatre. . .

    "Interweaving interpersonal relationships, personal identity, a community's economic struggle and loss -- inside of a social and historical context-- inside of memory-- layers the story beautifully. The diverse casting challenges the audience to review the specificity of history, while providing a universal doorway through which we can see ourselves." - Fanni Green, University of South Florida School of Theatre & Dance
  • Trio
    Every day, Tim bares his chest and Leslie kills him. Leslie’s mom is in the hospital, so she seeks distraction in her dad’s garage, devising a monster play for kids. Tim plays the monster as she wields a wooden sword, while a Trio of silent clowns create a magical world from found objects.

    Trio is a play that inspires adventurous theatremakers. The play wrestles with the cycles we all struggle...
    Every day, Tim bares his chest and Leslie kills him. Leslie’s mom is in the hospital, so she seeks distraction in her dad’s garage, devising a monster play for kids. Tim plays the monster as she wields a wooden sword, while a Trio of silent clowns create a magical world from found objects.

    Trio is a play that inspires adventurous theatremakers. The play wrestles with the cycles we all struggle through, as parents die and children have to take their place. 

    When an old college love appears, a three-way romantic triangle takes shape through swords and masks and monsters, and Tim and Leslie forge a way to face the real world, even if you’re only armed with a wooden sword.

    This script was developed using New Vaudeville clowning, commedia and dance. The movement and physicality invite ensembles to explore visual storytelling through a range of ethnic or historical traditions.
  • The Burlesque Astronomy Play
    The Burlesque Astronomy Play explores the challenges that women face when balancing career and femininity - with dance, visual art, astronomy and science magic. It celebrates the vibrant interplay between scientific and artistic exploration.

    Andi is an astronomer, secretly conducting experiments to see if a nerd girl can be sexy and artistic.

    Part of her experiment is dating Cal,...
    The Burlesque Astronomy Play explores the challenges that women face when balancing career and femininity - with dance, visual art, astronomy and science magic. It celebrates the vibrant interplay between scientific and artistic exploration.

    Andi is an astronomer, secretly conducting experiments to see if a nerd girl can be sexy and artistic.

    Part of her experiment is dating Cal, an artist. Andi knows that art and science are two different worlds. Cal thinks they overlap. A lot.

    Fiona’s career has been derailed by having children. Now she’s in a panic - her kids are drawn to art and music. So Fiona’s trying hard to get them back on track with in science, making goo and generating electricity with pickles.

    Andi is up for department chair and getting taken seriously as a scientist. There’s never been a woman as the Chair of Astrophysics at their college.

    Now Andi’s pregnant.

    Suddenly nothing adds up exactly and there are no clear answers. Science, she can count on. Space is what she’s longing to explore. But she’s finding out the biggest mysteries are sex and art and her own femininity.
  • Stay
    An eye surgeon convinces her husband he's been blinded in an accident, to try to keep him from leaving her.

  • Teatime
    People under siege making do with who and what they have.
  • Dancing
    A married couple who used to be a man and woman and are now two men, are trying to get used to things as they chaperone an awkward high school dance. 
  • Rewrite
    An actor who's spent his career getting killed onscreen, tries to convince a screenwriter to rewrite his wife's death.

    Selected for the Association of Theatre in Higher Education's New Play Development Workshop 2016.
  • Bikini Atoll Bombshell
    A beleaguered nurse on a faraway island tries on a bikini for the first time, and has to choose between humiliation and bravado.

    Commissioned by Keep St Pete Lit and inspired by Lance Rodgers' painting of the same name.
  • Love's Labors
    Charlie's done everything his father said would make him a good man - work hard, get married, raise a family. Jack's a doctor and almost a hermit, since his longtime partner left town. When their work lives connect, Charlie has to face fears and desires he's been struggling against all his life. Fathers, sons and masculinity, an exploration of how life resonates throughout a family.