Adam Rapp

Adam Rapp
Born (1968-06-15) June 15, 1968
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Playwright, novelist, director, screenwriter
Nationality American
Education St. John's Military Academy, Clarke College, The Juilliard School
Notable awards 2012 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book Award for "Punkzilla", 2007 Benjamin H. Danks Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, 2006 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama for "Red Light Winter", 2006 Princess Grace Statue Award

Adam Rapp (born June 15, 1968) is an American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, musician and film director.[1] His play, Red Light Winter, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006.[2]

Early life

The son of Mary Lee (née Baird) and Douglas Rapp, Adam Rapp was born in Chicago and spent most of his youth in Joliet, Illinois.

He is a graduate of St. John's Military Academy (Delafield, Wisconsin) and Clarke College (Dubuque, Iowa), where he captained the varsity basketball team.[3] After college he moved to New York City's East Village, where he landed a day job in book publishing and wrote fiction and plays at night. He later completed a two-year playwriting fellowship at The Juilliard School.[3] His younger brother is actor and singer Anthony Rapp.



Rapp attended the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in 1996.[4] His play Finer Noble Gases was staged by the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 2000, by Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2001, by Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in Charlotte in 2003, and by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City in 2004.[5] In 2001, Nocturne was premiered by the New York Theatre Workshop.[5] It has also been staged at by American Repertory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.[5] His play Stone Cold Dead Serious was produced in 2002 by the American Repertory Theater.[5]

Rapp's Red Light Winter received the Joseph Jefferson Award (Best New Work) in 2005 for its production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. [6] The play was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2006.[2] Rapp directed a production of Los Angeles, by Julian Sheppard, in 2007 at the Flea Theatre. As of 2007, Rapp was the resident playwright at the Edge Theatre Company in New York City. He teaches at the Yale School of Drama.[7] In 2011, Rapp's The Metal Children was given its regional debut by Swine Palace on Louisiana State University's campus.[8]

The majority of Rapp's plays feature small casts and are set in small spaces.[1] Many characters in the plays are lower-class Americans.[9] His plays often combine stories of Midwestern longing with the idea of finding escape in New York. He combines humor with gloom, preferring dark themes[7]

In a conversation with fellow playwright Gina Gionfriddo published in The Brooklyn Rail, Rapp says: "When you see something powerfully acted on stage, it hits a nerve in the way music hits a nerve … Watching someone twelve feet from you falling in love or being abused … There’s something raw about that experience that you don’t get from film or TV."[10]


Rapp's first young adult novel, Missing the Piano, was published in 1996. After writing his second book, The Buffalo Tree, in 1999, Rapp was invited to be the first author in residence at Ridgewood High School.[11] The Buffalo Tree was censored by the Muhlenberg School Board in Reading, Pennsylvania due to its themes, graphic language and sexual content.[12] His 2003 novel 33 Snowfish was one of Young Adult Library Services Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults.[13] He released Under the Wolf, Under the Dog in 2004.

His first adult novel, The Year of Endless Sorrows, was released in 2006.[14] Rapp made his graphic novel debut with the release of Ball Peen Hammer in September 2009.[15][16]

Film, television and music

Rapp directed his first film, Winter Passing with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell (2005), [17] and was a creative consultant for the television show The L Word.[18]

While working on The L Word, Rapp left in the middle of the season to attend the Edinburgh Festival.[4] He wrote for the 2010 season of HBO's In Treatment.[19]

He was a member of the band Bottomside, which released the independent CD The Element Man in September 2004.[20] He is a member of "Less the Band", which released the album Bear in April 2006.[21]

List of Works


  • Wolf in the River (2016)
  • Through the Yellow Hour (2012)
  • Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling (2011)
  • The Edge of Our Bodies (2011)
  • The Hallway Trilogy (2011), Part One: Rose, Part Two: Paraffin, Part Three: Nursing
  • The Metal Children (2010)
  • Classic Kitchen Timer (2009) (ten-minute play)
  • Decelerate Blue (2009)
  • Kindness (2008)
  • American Sligo (2008)
  • Bingo with the Indians (2007)
  • Essential Self-Defense (2006)
  • Red Light Winter (2005)
  • Members Only (2005)
  • Gompers (2005)
  • Blackbird (2004)
  • Stone Cold Dead Serious (2003)
  • Trueblinka (2002)
  • Faster (2002)
  • Finer Noble Gases (2002)
  • Train Story (2002)
  • Animals and Plants (2001)
  • Nocturne (2000)
  • Dreams of the Salthorse (2000)
  • Night of the Whitefish (1998)
  • Netherbones (1995)


  • The Year of Endless Sorrows (2006)
  • Know Your Beholder (2015)

Young adult novels


Film director


Year Nominated work(s)/Awards Category Result
1995 Missing the Piano Best Books for Young Adults, American Library Association Won
1995 Missing the Piano Best Books for Reluctant Readers citations, American Library Association Won
1997 Trueblinka Herbert & Patricia Brodkin Scholarship, National Playwright's Conference Won
1999 Playwriting award Princess Grace Fellowship Won
2000 Roger L. Stevens Award Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Won
2001 Nocturne Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights Won
2004 Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Los Angeles Times Book Award nomination Won
2006 Red Light Winter Pulitzer Prize for Drama (finalist) Nominated
2006 Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Schneider Family Book Award, teen category Won
2012 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award Won


  1. 1 2 3 "Adam Rapp". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Biography in Context. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Drama". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  3. 1 2 Angel, Ann. "E-view With Adam Rapp". The Alan Review. Virginia Tech. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  4. 1 2 Hart, Sarah. "Looking Both Ways". American Theatre. Theatre Communications Group. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Author Details". Twentieth Century North American Drama. Alexander Street Press. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  6. "Press Release", November 7, 2005
  7. 1 2 Ng, David (October 2007). "Cutting Loose With Adam Rapp". American Theatre: 38–41. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  8. "Calendar of Events". Culture Candy. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  9. Cummings, Scott T (April 2002). "26th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays". Theatre Journal. 54: 635–39. doi:10.1353/tj.2002.0118. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  10. Gionfriddo, Gina; Adam Rapp (November 2007). "Peering in at the Zoo: Adam Rapp and Gina Gionfriddo on American Theater". The Brooklyn Rail.
  11. Blubaugh, Penny. "An Author in Residence? Why Bother?" (PDF). Educational Resources Information Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  12. Hatza, George (May 30, 2010). "Censorship Battle over the Buffalo Tree". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  13. Gallo, Don (July 2004). "Bold Books for Innovative Teaching: Summer Reading 2004". The English Journal. 93 (6): 112–15. JSTOR 4128905.
  14. Gans, Andrew. "Rapp Discusses New Endless Sorrows Novel Jan. 22" Playbill, January 27, 2007
  15. Ball Peen Hammer, accessed November 11, 2015
  16. Hogan, John. "The Art of the 'Ball Peen Hammer'", accessed November 11, 2015
  17. Winter Passing, accessed November 11, 2015
  18. Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: Chatting with Playwright and Screenwriter Adam Rapp" Playbill, February 20, 2006
  19. Shattuck, Kathryn. "Therapy? Not His Cup of Tea" New York Times, November 12, 2010
  20. "Bottomside". MOG.
  21. "Less the Band". Less the Band. Louisville Music.

External links

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