Ariel Stess

Ariel Stess

My plays are centered on individuals’ relationships with power. They often engage ensemble casts to stir up questions about enforced status quos within American communities. Much of my recent work explores gender roles that trap, reduce, and harm us, and how capitalism enforces gender roles and isolation, and diminishes the healing power of community. My work is its own genre, which uses strategies from realism...
My plays are centered on individuals’ relationships with power. They often engage ensemble casts to stir up questions about enforced status quos within American communities. Much of my recent work explores gender roles that trap, reduce, and harm us, and how capitalism enforces gender roles and isolation, and diminishes the healing power of community. My work is its own genre, which uses strategies from realism, dramedy, drama, comedy, absurdism, existentialism, satire, and Wellmanism (Mac Wellman’s teachings). I’m inspired by Samuel Beckett, Pina Bausch, Georg Buchner, Julia Jarcho, Tina Satter, and Suzan-Lori Parks. My plays are often comedies, and they are usually unsettling. I believe theatre, as an art form, is inherently powerful and political because it pushes people slightly off their center, and from this slightly tilted vantage point, we can see the world around us anew and make change.

Plays

  • I'm Pretty Fucked Up
    Set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this play looks at five teenagers' interlocking experiences on the day of a lockdown at their public high school.
  • Kara & Emma & Barbara & Miranda
    Kara wants to spend the evening with her husband in their new house. Emma wants to make something out of her life. Barbara wants to get her ex-lover out of her bed. And Miranda just wants to find a safe place to sleep for the night. This Rashomon-style dramedy follows four women isolated and on the brinks of internal crises as they try to find a way to survive.
  • The World My Mama Raised
    A play about the school-to-prison pipeline and women's reproductive rights.
  • Heartbreak
    A man's house is fragmented when his daughter arrives from the big city to ask him for relationship advice.
  • Tranquil
    Set in the New Mexican desert, this five-person play charts the story of a wild cowboy who steals his girlfriend's writing and voice and becomes a star.