Joel Drake Johnson
Joel Drake Johnson is an award winning, internationally produced playwright and teacher who got his start as a writer at Chicago’s critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater (Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia, artistic directors). His latest play RASHEEDA SPEAKING, originally directed by Sandy Shinner and produced by Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre, opened in New York City at The Signature Theatre as part of The New Group’s 2014-15 season. Under the direction of Tony and Emmy Award Winner, Cynthia Nixon, it featured two time Oscar Winner, Dianne Wiest and Tony Award Winner, Tonya Pinkins as well as Darren Goldstein (“The Affair”) and Patricia Conolly (ensemble member/ Guthrie Theater and Stratford Festival). RASHEEDA was subsequently nominated for best new off-Broadway play by the The Outer Critics Circle. Other plays include FOUR PLACES first produced at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater under the direction of Sandy Shinner and featuring Mary Ann Thebus and Meg Thalken. It was subsequently produced in LA by The Rogue Machine Theatre, where under the direction of Robin Larsen and featuring Tony nominee, Roxanne Hart, it garnered more critical acclaim that included five Ovation Award nominations, four nominations (including best play) from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and a Garland Award for Best New Play. It has since been produced internationally. Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A BLUE MOON which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists Theatre (Russ Tutterow, artistic director) and Woodstock, NY. Other works include AS THE BEAVER, first produced by Zebra Crossing, THE END OF THE TOUR first produced by Victory Gardens, and THE FALL TO EARTH which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award Winner, Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep featuring Tony Award Winner, Michelle Pawk and directed by Joe Brancato; at 59E59 Theatre in NYC, featuring Tony nominee, Amelia Campbell (dir: Joe Brancato); The Odyssey Theatre in LA featuring Oscar nominee JoBeth Williams (dir: Robin Larsen). Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre produced the premiere of THE FIRST GRADE (dir: Tom Ross) which won the San Francisco/ Bay Area Critic Circle Award for best new play of 2010-11. Johnson has been commissioned four times by Steppenwolf Theatre, commissions which led to productions of A BLAMELESS LIFE (dir: Tony Award Winner, Anna D. Shapiro) and TRANQUILLITY WOODS (dir. Sandy Shinner). Johnson has been nominated 5 times for Best New Play by Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award Committee. He is currently working on a new play commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre. He has taught playwriting at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL, DePaul University and Northwestern University.