MacArthur Fellows Program

Naomi Wallace

Playwright | Class of 1999

Title
Playwright
Location
Prospect, Kentucky
Age
39 at time of award
Area of Focus
Theatrical Arts

Naomi Wallace is a playwright who employs poetic, highly original language and a strong sociopolitical sensibility in her works.

Exploring the human condition through such settings as the Persian Gulf War and seventeenth-century, plague-ridden England, her plays deal with subject matter grounded in human reality not typically seen in modern theater. Wallace’s plays have dealt with such issues as young men hunting illegal immigrants for bounty on the Texas-Mexico border and a lengthy strike at a Louisville meatpacking plant. Her play, One Flea Spare (1996) is emblematic of her work: it is provocative and full of haunting images, startling metaphors, and rich language used to comment on issues of class, gender, age, sensuality, and desire.

Wallace’s other plays include Slaughter City (1995), In the Heart of America (1995), Birdy (an adaptation of the William Wharton novel, 1997), Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (1998) and The Inland Sea (2002). She is the author of a book of poetry, To Dance a Stony Field (1995), and the screenplay for the independent film, Lawn Dogs (1997). The Public Theater in New York and the Royal Shakespeare Company of London are among the institutions that have commissioned her work.

Wallace received a B.A. from Hampshire College and an M.F.A. (1994) fromthe University of Iowa.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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