Beth Kander

Beth Kander

Beth Kander is an award-winning author and playwright with tangled roots in the Midwest and Deep South, who currently calls Chicago home. The granddaughter of immigrants, she loves exploring how worlds old and new can intertwine—or collide.

Beth earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women, and a...
Beth Kander is an award-winning author and playwright with tangled roots in the Midwest and Deep South, who currently calls Chicago home. The granddaughter of immigrants, she loves exploring how worlds old and new can intertwine—or collide.

Beth earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women, and a Bachelor of Arts at Brandeis University.

Playwriting honors include a 2024-2025 Dramatists Guild Foundation National Fellowship; the T. Jefferson Carey Memorial Playwriting Award (2022); Henry Award for Best New Play or Musical (2019-2020); Headwaters New Play Award (2018); Equity Library Theatre-Chicago Award (2017); Ashland New Plays Festival (2015, 2016); Eudora Welty New Play Awards (2008, 2010, 2012); and the Charles M. Getchell New Play Award (2012), among others. For 7 years, she served as the Host Playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF).

Beth's debut novel I MADE IT OUT OF CLAY comes out in December 2023. By day, she also works in the nonprofit world as a strategist and grantwriter. A proud parent-artist, her favorite characters are her two brave, hilarious kids, and she cheers for parent-artists everywhere. Beth is represented by Allison Hellegers at Stimola Literary Studio.

For more: www.bethkander.com

Plays

  • All the Ingredients
    Jackson, Mississippi, November 22, 1967. On the night before Thanksgiving, a Black mother and a Jewish mother are making pies, forging a tentative alliance, and contemplating how to contend with a very personal earthquake in their families’ lives while the world rages and burns around them. Occasionally interrupted by the white preacher's wife next door, the action of the play takes place in Bea’s home,...
    Jackson, Mississippi, November 22, 1967. On the night before Thanksgiving, a Black mother and a Jewish mother are making pies, forging a tentative alliance, and contemplating how to contend with a very personal earthquake in their families’ lives while the world rages and burns around them. Occasionally interrupted by the white preacher's wife next door, the action of the play takes place in Bea’s home, near the city’s only synagogue, the very recently bombed Beth Israel Congregation. In this imagined story, Bea lives next door to Rabbi Perry and Arene Nussbaum.
  • Hazardous Materials
    How much do we bury in a place - and in ourselves? HAZARDOUS MATERIALS takes place in one Chicago apartment, in two different eras. In 2015, new co-workers Hal and Cassie are investigating a sad hoarder mess, where an elderly Jane Doe just died; in 1955, two strangers from different worlds, Esther and Lynley, become tentative friends. In alternating scenes, a mystery gets underway and two stories unfold within...
    How much do we bury in a place - and in ourselves? HAZARDOUS MATERIALS takes place in one Chicago apartment, in two different eras. In 2015, new co-workers Hal and Cassie are investigating a sad hoarder mess, where an elderly Jane Doe just died; in 1955, two strangers from different worlds, Esther and Lynley, become tentative friends. In alternating scenes, a mystery gets underway and two stories unfold within the same walls: As Hal and Cassie pick through the physical wreckage of a stranger’s life while dealing with their own emotional detritus, Lynley and Esther forge a surprising alliance. With each object or truth unearthed or ignored in each era, one small apartment unfurls as home to timeless human longing.
  • Return
    Faye is back from the dead, so now everything's fine, right? (Nope.) Superstition, science, and spirituality intertwine as a family wrestles with what "return" matters most.
  • The Bottle Tree
    In The Bottle Tree, gun violence in America is explored through the story of a small-town girl with a big, bad family legacy. Years after a tragic shooting at East Maple High, all of Maple County, Mississippi, is still traumatized; perhaps no one more so than shy, sarcastic Alley, the little sister of the infamous shooter. With fragility, tenacity, and a sharp sense of humor, Alley is haunted by past ghosts and...
    In The Bottle Tree, gun violence in America is explored through the story of a small-town girl with a big, bad family legacy. Years after a tragic shooting at East Maple High, all of Maple County, Mississippi, is still traumatized; perhaps no one more so than shy, sarcastic Alley, the little sister of the infamous shooter. With fragility, tenacity, and a sharp sense of humor, Alley is haunted by past ghosts and jolted into new worlds with few easy answers—and as she gradually realizes, so is everyone else. When everyone around you is also a little bit broken, how can anyone begin to piece themselves back together? Young love, old guilt, laughter, and lingering scars all keep the girl, the town, and Alley’s symbolic “bottle tree” on the verge of shattering.

    NOTE: Script will soon be available through Stage Rights in Los Angeles - www.stagerights.com
  • Will
    When likable finance guy Will is accused of assault, he and his wife Susan are adamant about his innocence. They hire Tova, a quiet, serious lawyer, to make this go away ASAP. Meanwhile, Chrissy’s pursuing justice; above all, she wants to be believed. A fifth actor portrays The Public, embodying various roles from beleaguered public defender to chatty barista. In a nonstop 90 minutes, the audience constantly...
    When likable finance guy Will is accused of assault, he and his wife Susan are adamant about his innocence. They hire Tova, a quiet, serious lawyer, to make this go away ASAP. Meanwhile, Chrissy’s pursuing justice; above all, she wants to be believed. A fifth actor portrays The Public, embodying various roles from beleaguered public defender to chatty barista. In a nonstop 90 minutes, the audience constantly questions whose stories to trust—is anyone guilty? Is everyone?—as the play races toward what might be a cliffhanger, or might be the edge of a very steep cliff.
    (Note: Heavily revised new version with new title uploaded June 2019; former working title of earlier draft was "ACCUSED.")
  • Like a Mother
    Melly and Lou are new parents. They knew things would change, but for Melly, especially, the transition has been harder than she thought - especially because her childless-by-choice best friend Caitlin has completely bailed on her. Bleary-eyed, lonely, and wondering what will come next, Melly is befriended late one night by an unlikely arrival: Florida Man.
    (Note: This play is the first in what will be a...
    Melly and Lou are new parents. They knew things would change, but for Melly, especially, the transition has been harder than she thought - especially because her childless-by-choice best friend Caitlin has completely bailed on her. Bleary-eyed, lonely, and wondering what will come next, Melly is befriended late one night by an unlikely arrival: Florida Man.
    (Note: This play is the first in what will be a three-play-cycle; each will stand alone, although be related; each will be written after the playwright experiences the 'next' phase of parenthood. Conceived to be an 18-year-project.)
  • Scrambled
    Sara is wisecracking, single, broke, and secular. Neshama is serious, married, infertile, and Orthodox. When fate, God, and Sara's Episcopalian roommate bring these two Jewish women together, each must question what really matters, what they really want-and what they're willing to do to get it. As Sara considers donating her eggs, and Neshama ponders accepting them, both women find themselves...
    Sara is wisecracking, single, broke, and secular. Neshama is serious, married, infertile, and Orthodox. When fate, God, and Sara's Episcopalian roommate bring these two Jewish women together, each must question what really matters, what they really want-and what they're willing to do to get it. As Sara considers donating her eggs, and Neshama ponders accepting them, both women find themselves unexpectedly scrambled.

    For production rights: https://www.stagerights.com/allshows/scrambled/

    "Scrambled is funny, poignant, and relevant to anyone who has ever wondered what they're supposed to be doing with their life. The characters feel familiar, and yet the story feels fresh-a powerful combination." -Denise Halbach, SETC
  • Blue (formerly The Blue)
    A modern fable about family, fallibility, and finding your way.
    The Alexander sisters have pretty hard knock lives over in Worried Creek, Kentucky, in the late 1980s. Along with their comatose mother, they are all that remain of the Alexander family, a long line of addicts and social pariahs. April is a pregnant prize-fighter, refusing to reveal the identity of the baby's father; May is dead (but...
    A modern fable about family, fallibility, and finding your way.
    The Alexander sisters have pretty hard knock lives over in Worried Creek, Kentucky, in the late 1980s. Along with their comatose mother, they are all that remain of the Alexander family, a long line of addicts and social pariahs. April is a pregnant prize-fighter, refusing to reveal the identity of the baby's father; May is dead (but narrates their strange tale); and June, the book-smart sister, was born with the "family curse": bright blue skin, which marks her as an Alexander and shames her into a hermit-like existence. But June hasn't entirely abandoned hope. She writes daily to a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles she believes can "fix" her-- and when he shows up at their door in Kentucky, all of the Alexander womens' lives (and deaths) take unexpected turns.
  • Running Mates (or, The Family Party)
    Sam Storm has been the beloved mayor of Anderson, Georgia for the past twenty years. Loved by the community and his doting wife, Sam’s name is usually the only one on the ballot come election time, but when an embarrassing video of him is leaked his seat in office is threatened. Sam has some real competition when the last person he ever expected to run against him puts her name on the ballot, his wife Sophia....
    Sam Storm has been the beloved mayor of Anderson, Georgia for the past twenty years. Loved by the community and his doting wife, Sam’s name is usually the only one on the ballot come election time, but when an embarrassing video of him is leaked his seat in office is threatened. Sam has some real competition when the last person he ever expected to run against him puts her name on the ballot, his wife Sophia. Now it’s down and dirty as husband and wife duke it out. Can their marriage withstand the political fisticuffs? And what happens when an unexpected third candidate enters the race? This fast-paced political comedy brings new meaning to the phrase “family politics.”
  • Dear Anya
    When Molly was in eighth grade, her teacher made her class write to imaginary Russian pen pals in order to foster empathy for their Cold War "enemies." For a year, Molly tells all her hopes and fears and secrets to the entirely fictional Anya Tolstoy. In 2016, Molly gets a Facebook friend request... from her imaginary Russian pen pal Anya.
  • Unshelved
    On what - or whom - does your own identity depend? The Hollingsworth family is, at first glance, perfectly normal – maybe a bit more literature-centric and a bit more formal than average, but nothing revolutionary. Audrey is the head librarian at the local library, her husband Bill is an English professor, and their son Rye is trying to make it as a writer. When Audrey is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer...
    On what - or whom - does your own identity depend? The Hollingsworth family is, at first glance, perfectly normal – maybe a bit more literature-centric and a bit more formal than average, but nothing revolutionary. Audrey is the head librarian at the local library, her husband Bill is an English professor, and their son Rye is trying to make it as a writer. When Audrey is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, the calm family picture begins to blur. Before her illness, Audrey had always protected her son and husband; now, as she sinks into the past, she reveals long-buried family secrets.

    For production rights: www.chicagodramaworks.com