Tammy Ryan

Tammy Ryan

TAMMY RYAN is a playwright and librettist whose work has been performed across the United States and internationally. She was awarded the Francesca Primus Prize by the American Theater Critics Association for her play Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods (Premiere Stages/Playwrights Theater of New Jersey.) Her play Tar Beach, (Luna Stage) was included on “The List” of the most outstanding plays by women playwrights...
TAMMY RYAN is a playwright and librettist whose work has been performed across the United States and internationally. She was awarded the Francesca Primus Prize by the American Theater Critics Association for her play Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods (Premiere Stages/Playwrights Theater of New Jersey.) Her play Tar Beach, (Luna Stage) was included on “The List” of the most outstanding plays by women playwrights in 2014 compiled by the Kilroys and was a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, as well as a finalist for both the Terrence McNally Playwriting Award and the Source Theater Festival and was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Other plays include Soldier’s Heart, Dark Part of the Forest (Premiere Stages) A Confluence of Dreaming, Baby’s Blues, FBI Girl (Pittsburgh Playhouse), and The Music Lesson (Florida Stage/2001 Carbonell Award Best Production/2004 AATE Distinguished New Play Award). In 2013 she received a Pittsburgh Artists Region Grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation and Heinz Endowments to adapt the book Hammer of Justice by Lianne Ellison Norman for the stage. Her play, Molly’s Hammer, about Pittsburgh peace activist and nuclear protestor Molly Rush will have its world premiere at The Repertory Theater of St. Louis in March 2016. Ryan's work has been developed at the New Harmony Project, The Bonderman, The Lark and has been featured at NNPN's National Showcase of New Plays. Ryan's work is published by Dramatists Play Service, Broadway Play Publishing, Inc, Dramatic Publishing, Inc and Playscripts. For more information go to: www.tammyryan.net

Plays

  • Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods
    In the early '90s in Sudan after civil war destroyed their villages, an exodus of boys trekked 800 miles across Africa until making it to refugee camps in Kenya, where they lived on a bowl of grain a day for 10 years. In 2001, the U.S. resettled 3,600 of these "lost boys" in cities across America. Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods tells the story of Christine, a recently divorced "East Ender...
    In the early '90s in Sudan after civil war destroyed their villages, an exodus of boys trekked 800 miles across Africa until making it to refugee camps in Kenya, where they lived on a bowl of grain a day for 10 years. In 2001, the U.S. resettled 3,600 of these "lost boys" in cities across America. Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods tells the story of Christine, a recently divorced "East Ender" from Pittsburgh, who meets Gabriel, a former "lost boy" working in the produce section of Whole Foods. Soon Gabriel's world becomes enmeshed with hers and daughter Alex-leading to an unexpected journey of awareness, struggle and hopefulness. The play asks the question: what happens when we open up our lives to help another human being-leaving us to wonder about the effect of one soul upon another. American Theater Critics Association Francesca Primus Prize "A powerful, timely … beautiful play." —Northern New Jersey Theater Examiner "Remarkably touching." -New York Times
  • A Confluence of Dreaming
    Carol, an under appreciated and seemingly invisible suburban homemaker, finds herself wondering what the hell happened to her life. She rediscovers stifled thrill and passion in the secret, sexy world of cyberspace. As her husband obsesses over their local property tax assessment and the cost of their current kitchen renovation, the state of their marriage (along with their roof) is about to collapse under the...
    Carol, an under appreciated and seemingly invisible suburban homemaker, finds herself wondering what the hell happened to her life. She rediscovers stifled thrill and passion in the secret, sexy world of cyberspace. As her husband obsesses over their local property tax assessment and the cost of their current kitchen renovation, the state of their marriage (along with their roof) is about to collapse under the weight of what they haven’t addressed. Their 17-year-old “activist” daughter, who is about to leave the nest and save the world, is torn between going to college or Tibet. Taking place in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2001, Carol solicits a face-to-face meeting with her online lover in New York City. When fantasy collides with reality in his studio apartment, Carol confronts the choices she’s made against the desires she has suppressed in the quest for self-fulfillment. “Tammy Ryan is so Irish that nothing is too terrible to be funny … CONFLUENCE is what we’d call a 9/11 play … it’s also about marriage, parenting, cybersex and especially dreams … it’s engrossing, perceptive and very very funny … Carol’s rebellion is a hoot, involving some very funny sex scenes, remember this is a master class in turning existential despair into comedy. Leave the young children at home.” —Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “… The most original aspect of the play concerns on-line chat rooms and the contrast between sexual fantasies and attempts to follow them through in real life. Ryan gets good comic mileage out of on-line connected simulated sex and the subsequent connection of real people … a good and touching closing scene, which … contains sweet surprises.” —Gordon Spencer, W R C T
  • Baby's Blues
    Susan is a career woman with a seemingly perfect life, complete with sensitive husband and a brand new bundle of joy on the way. Beginning at the moment a very pregnant Susan goes into labor, the play follows her journey as she becomes a new mother, with a frighteningly inexplicable newborn to care for. Employing both realistic and surrealistic elements, BABY’S BLUES explores one woman’s descent into postpartum...
    Susan is a career woman with a seemingly perfect life, complete with sensitive husband and a brand new bundle of joy on the way. Beginning at the moment a very pregnant Susan goes into labor, the play follows her journey as she becomes a new mother, with a frighteningly inexplicable newborn to care for. Employing both realistic and surrealistic elements, BABY’S BLUES explores one woman’s descent into postpartum depression, but also brings into focus the difficult challenge of becoming a mother for the first time, as well as the fine line that sometimes exists between health and madness. “BABY’S BLUES makes a strong impact through powerful dialogue … It takes an emotional dilemma and winds it tighter and tighter and tighter to a wrenching peak, leaving us vibrating with the final impact … BABY’S BLUES has undoubted immediacy.” —Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Tammy Ryan’s fiercely emotional and darkly disquieting play takes a frank and sympathetic look at one mother’s descent into serious psychosis brought on by the birth of her first child. Ryan works overtime to keep the story real yet understandable. It’s a tensely orchestrated hundred minute journey unrelieved by intermission, yet there are moments of humor and irony.” —Alice T Carter, Tribune Review
  • Dark Part of the Forest
    Joan moves from the city to the country with her air traffic controller husband and their twelve-year-old daughter in search of peace and safety. Instead the move creates a growing sense of anxiety in Joan. When young girls begin to disappear, her anxieties are confirmed and the growing tension begins to tear apart the family. Interweaving fairy tales with Joan’s memories of her own sexual coming of age, DARK...
    Joan moves from the city to the country with her air traffic controller husband and their twelve-year-old daughter in search of peace and safety. Instead the move creates a growing sense of anxiety in Joan. When young girls begin to disappear, her anxieties are confirmed and the growing tension begins to tear apart the family. Interweaving fairy tales with Joan’s memories of her own sexual coming of age, DARK PART OF THE FOREST follows Joan back through her fears until she can emerge transformed. "Tammy Ryan should have called her new play "The Dark Part of the Marriage" instead of DARK PART OF THE FOREST...in the play's potent debut...Joan and Bill's falthering marriage is the main event. What's also intriguing about DARK PART OF THE FOREST is the abundance of fairy tale imagery...Ryan has written no fairy tale, though. She can be grimmer than the Grimm brothers -- but just as enigmatically entertaining." - Peter Filichia, The Star Ledger
  • Pig
    It is the day before Labor Day, 1990, four months before the Gulf War and the Robinsons are having a barbeque. Jason, the prodigal son who's been in the Navy since a violent confrontation with his father, arrives home with presents for his family from around the world, and a freshly killed pig in a garbage bag to roast. After Santos, the next door neighbor casts doubt as to what's really in the bag...
    It is the day before Labor Day, 1990, four months before the Gulf War and the Robinsons are having a barbeque. Jason, the prodigal son who's been in the Navy since a violent confrontation with his father, arrives home with presents for his family from around the world, and a freshly killed pig in a garbage bag to roast. After Santos, the next door neighbor casts doubt as to what's really in the bag, Jason takes his family hostage and forces them at gun point to play a life and death of charades. "...in Tammy Ryan's taut drama PIG...the stage is set for an emotional explosion." - The New York Times. "A gut wrenching, teeth clenching drama." - Curtain Up.
  • FBI Girl: How I Learned To Crack My Father's Code
    This poignant, coming-of-age story follows young Maura Conlon through her childhood journey in LosAngeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Growing up in a large Irish-Catholic family mostly held together by commitment to her youngest brother, Joey, born with Down syndrome, Maura struggles to find her place in the world. She is fascinated by mysteries, a fascination fed by the elusive world of her FBI agent father....
    This poignant, coming-of-age story follows young Maura Conlon through her childhood journey in LosAngeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Growing up in a large Irish-Catholic family mostly held together by commitment to her youngest brother, Joey, born with Down syndrome, Maura struggles to find her place in the world. She is fascinated by mysteries, a fascination fed by the elusive world of her FBI agent father. Her dream growing up was to follow his path and crack "the code" that made his world so lusciously impenetrable. "A rich and multifaceted story … It gives voice to every smart, shy girl who saw the mystery of the world and dreamed herself into its center." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • The Music Lesson
    Weaving together the music of Bach, with memories of the Bosnian War and the universal conflicts between teacher and student, The Music Lesson tells the story of Irena and her husband Ivan, two musicians who escaped the war in Sarajevo to start a new life in Pittsburgh. When Ivan meets Mrs. Johnson, a recently divorced single mother at the local grocery store, he brings home two new students: 10 year old...
    Weaving together the music of Bach, with memories of the Bosnian War and the universal conflicts between teacher and student, The Music Lesson tells the story of Irena and her husband Ivan, two musicians who escaped the war in Sarajevo to start a new life in Pittsburgh. When Ivan meets Mrs. Johnson, a recently divorced single mother at the local grocery store, he brings home two new students: 10 year old Eddie, a talented violin student, and the unwilling Kat, his 14 year old sister. While her passion for music and the students she taught helped Irena survive the war, she now stands torn between Maja, the 12 year old piano prodigy she left behind in Sarajevo and Kat, the bright but angry American teenager who wants to learn, but resists her teaching. Shifting elegantly from past to present and resonating with powerful music, this is the tale of two countries, two families, two generations and the ways they teach and heal each other. American Alliance for Theater in Education Distinguished New Play Award, 2004 "The Music Lesson will prove to be one of the year's most important, thought-provoking and heartfelt new plays...[an] impressive drama." —Sun-Sentinel, South Florida
  • We Are Antigone
    Six very different girls walk into a classroom with a simple task: to put Antigone on trail. As they work to condemn or vindicate Sophocles' classic heroine, they find surprising intersections between the text and their own lives, transforming Antigone's struggle into a framework by which to discuss their own experiences, families, and aspirations. As they find their voices through verse, rap and...
    Six very different girls walk into a classroom with a simple task: to put Antigone on trail. As they work to condemn or vindicate Sophocles' classic heroine, they find surprising intersections between the text and their own lives, transforming Antigone's struggle into a framework by which to discuss their own experiences, families, and aspirations. As they find their voices through verse, rap and song the girls discover the many ways in which each and every one of them is Antigone.
  • Molly's Hammer
    Molly Rush was focused on the endgame— save the world, protect her family. But what would she have to sacrifice? In 1980, the Pittsburgh housewife and mother of six walked into a General Electric plant and took a hammer to a nuclear warhead to protest the buildup of America’s nuclear arsenal. Based on the true story of the Plowshares Eight, Molly’s Hammer is the world-premiere account of one woman’s unwavering...
    Molly Rush was focused on the endgame— save the world, protect her family. But what would she have to sacrifice? In 1980, the Pittsburgh housewife and mother of six walked into a General Electric plant and took a hammer to a nuclear warhead to protest the buildup of America’s nuclear arsenal. Based on the true story of the Plowshares Eight, Molly’s Hammer is the world-premiere account of one woman’s unwavering beliefs and her family’s desperate attempts to protect her from infamy. Repertory Theater of St. Louis premiere Molly's Hammer in March 2016. Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
  • Lindsey's Oyster
    Sixteen year old Lindsey is “texting” Dylan, captain of the Lacrosse team. When he invites her to the cemetery for a party with his friends she goes, but the date quickly spirals out of her control. When her parents discover she is pregnant, they pressure her to have an abortion, but Lindsey at first resists. Instead she decides to get a tattoo and must convince Rooster, the Tattoo Artist of Saints and...
    Sixteen year old Lindsey is “texting” Dylan, captain of the Lacrosse team. When he invites her to the cemetery for a party with his friends she goes, but the date quickly spirals out of her control. When her parents discover she is pregnant, they pressure her to have an abortion, but Lindsey at first resists. Instead she decides to get a tattoo and must convince Rooster, the Tattoo Artist of Saints and Sinners Tattoo Shop that she is “ready to get inked”. Through texting and memory, in her relationship with her BFF Melinda and the Tattoo Artist, Lindsey begins to gain a more complex understanding of what happened that night, reclaiming the narrative of her life and her ability to reshape her own destiny.
  • Tar Beach
    It is July 1977. Son of Sam is on the loose and New York City is in the midst of a brutal heat wave. Sixteen year old Mary Claire and her best friend Mary Francis start that day sunning themselves on the roof of an Ozone Park row house. Younger sister Reenie is searching for her lost Greek Mythology class project, while their parents are consumed by the battles of their troubled marriage. The boy crazy Marys...
    It is July 1977. Son of Sam is on the loose and New York City is in the midst of a brutal heat wave. Sixteen year old Mary Claire and her best friend Mary Francis start that day sunning themselves on the roof of an Ozone Park row house. Younger sister Reenie is searching for her lost Greek Mythology class project, while their parents are consumed by the battles of their troubled marriage. The boy crazy Marys hatch a plan to stay out all night, but an overstressed electrical grid leads to a city-wide blackout and a sudden loss of innocence. Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Finalist, Terrence McNally Playwriting Award, Source Theater Festival, Jane Chambers Award honoree. Included on the 2014 edition of "The List" complied by the Kilroys as “one of the most excellent new plays by female-identified authors of the last year”. "Her most accomplished work to date...a splendid memory play." - NJ Arts "Tammy Ryan's dialogue is rapid fire, she has tapped into the ghosts of family everywhere...a big, thick, slice of life that is fiction, non fiction, experience, observation, life and love and struggle and you need to see it." - Q Onstage
  • Soldier's Heart
    Before heading off to war in Iraq Marine Sergeant Casey Johnson neatly organizes her life into a box of lists, envelopes and registration forms for her son's activities. Months later, she returns to Southwestern Pennsylvania forever changed, with deep psychological scars that no amount of arranging seems to be able to fix. When she refuses to see her young son, her mother and her ex husband are forced to...
    Before heading off to war in Iraq Marine Sergeant Casey Johnson neatly organizes her life into a box of lists, envelopes and registration forms for her son's activities. Months later, she returns to Southwestern Pennsylvania forever changed, with deep psychological scars that no amount of arranging seems to be able to fix. When she refuses to see her young son, her mother and her ex husband are forced to confront along with Casey what exactly happened to her while she was in Iraq. Revealing that she was sexually assaulted by her commanding officer, Casey wrestles with a deeper hidden truth that keeps from her reclaiming the mother she was. Moving back and forth between Pennsylvania and Iraq, Soldier’s Heart shines a light on the struggles facing women warriors returning home. (To be published by Broadway Play Publishing in 2016) "Portrayals of soldiers wrecked by war date to the ancient Greeks (see Aeschylus), but Ms. Ryan adeptly reworks the time-tested recipe from a woman's perspective to make it seem fresh again....Ms Ryan deftly layers critical incidents that culminate in a forceful climax." - Michael Sommers, New York Times