By Dan O'Brien
Publication Date: 11/7/2023
True Story: A Trilogy gathers together three documentary plays by acclaimed playwright and poet Dan O’Brien concerning trauma, both political and personal.
“Poetic . . . Truthful . . . A poignant and lyrical work of theatre.” — Alexis Soloski, New York Times
The Body of an American speaks to a moment in history when a single, stark photograph—of a US Army Ranger dragged from the wreckage of a Blackhawk helicopter through the streets of Mogadishu—altered the course of global events. In a story that ranges from Rwanda to Afghanistan to the Canadian Arctic, O’Brien dramatizes the ethical and psychological haunting of journalist Paul Watson.
In The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage the playwright applies journalistic principles to an investigation of his childhood unhappiness, as he searches for the reason why his parents and siblings cut him off years ago. The more he learns about his family, the more mysterious the circumstances surrounding their estrangement become, until his sense of self is shaken by rumors regarding his true parentage.
The trilogy concludes with New Life, a tragicomedy that finds Paul Watson in Syria and the playwright in treatment for cancer, while together they endeavor to sell a TV series about journalists in war zones. New Life explores the paradox of war as entertainment, and dares to dream of healing after catastrophe. These three gritty yet poetic plays stand as a testament to the value of witnessing, honoring, and perhaps transcending the struggles of living.
Praise for Dan O’Brien’s A Story That Happens
“A master class in surviving through art.” – Margaret Gray, The Los Angeles Times
“Powerful . . . This is a book for our times.” – Alice Jolly, Times Literary Supplement
“A quiet revelation.” – Caridad Svich, Contemporary Theatre Review
Dan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, and nonfiction writer. His recognition includes a Guggenheim Fellowship for Drama, two PEN America Awards for Playwriting, and the UK’s Fenton Aldeburgh Poetry Prize. He lives in Los Angeles.