Playwright, Educator, Project Developer, Consultant, Activist
Paula Cizmar is a playwright whose work often combines poetry and politics and is concerned with the way stories get told in a culture—and with who or what gets left out of the discussion. She is a recent recipient of a TCG/Mellon Foundation On the Road grant to do research in Serbia for a new play entitled Salvage/Spasiti.
Theatres producing her work include Portland Stage Company, the Women’s Project, the Jungle Theatre (Minneapolis), San Diego Rep, Passage Theatre (NJ), Theatre LaBeet (London), The Warehouse (London), Actors Theatre of Louisville (short plays), and Playwrights Arena @ LATC. Among her many plays are The Death of a Miner, Candy & Shelley Go To the Desert, Still Life with Parrot & Monkey, Ghost Dance on Mulholland, and Bone Dry. Street Stories, a play described by an admiring reviewer as “a prose poem to urban, multicultural America,” was awarded three Critics Picks for the Playwrights Arena production in Los Angeles. Her adaptation, Goat Springs Eternal, based on a 17th-century Lope de Vega play, transports the action to the U.S.-Mexico border and was part of the 2014 Golden Tongues 2 Festival in Los Angeles. Two of her plays were nominated for the first Kilroy List.
Paula has received commissions from Salt Lake Acting Company, Echo Theatre, Portland Stage Company, and Playwrights Arena. Her numerous residencies include Playwright in Residence at Skidmore College and Portland Stage, and an international residency at the Rockefeller Study Center at Bellagio, Italy. Her work has been selected for both Sundance and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, as well as an EnVision Retreat at Bard. Among her many awards are an NEA grant and a Special Commendation from the Susan Blackburn Prize for The Death of a Miner.
She is one of the authors of the acclaimed documentary theatre piece, Seven, written in collaboration with Carol K. Mack, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz. The play, based on interviews the playwrights conducted with courageous human rights workers, focuses on the struggles of female activists who campaign against violence and corruption, even in the face of threats to their own lives. The play has been translated into 20+ languages and has been performed in Turkey, Jordan, Japan, Argentina, Russia, Latvia, Northern Ireland, among other places. It toured the Balkans as part of a campaign to end violence toward women and has inspired a women’s rights/arts movement there. In 2014, it was performed at NATO headquarters by a group of male generals and toured four cities in India. Upcoming performances are scheduled in Egypt, Ukraine, Bangladesh, and Montenegro in 2015.
Paula is one of seven female playwrights selected to write The Hotel Play, a collaborative site-specific immersive piece that will be performed in a Los Angeles hotel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Playwrights Arena in 2017.
She teaches playwriting at the University of Southern California where she was a recipient of the Mellon Mentoring Award.