True Story: A Trilogy

True Story: A Trilogy

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By Dan O'Brien

ISBN: 9781628975130

Publication Date:  1/2/2024

True Story: A Trilogy gathers together three documentary plays by acclaimed playwright and poet Dan O’Brien concerning trauma, both political and personal. 


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. 

Other Books by Dan O'Brien



“Poetic . . . Truthful . . . A poignant and lyrical work of theatre.” Alexis Soloski, New York Times

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

 "All the essays were written during the tumultuous Trump years, a period of bombastic rage, where the truth was not only clouded but disrespected . . . O'Brien does an unforgettable job accompanying the reader through the prism of his life experiences, offering more than mere lessons." —Jonas Shwartz-Owen, Broadway World

Biographical Information

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.