In Celebration of Women’s History Month, SCR Highlights Talented Playwrights and Directors

Danielle Bliss
 | Mar 20, 2018
Women's History Month

In 1987, the month of March was officially designated as Women’s History Month, giving the United States a reminder to recognize the powerful and influential women throughout history. South Coast Repertory would not be the theatre it is today without the talented and unique women who have written a range of plays, directed exceptional productions, staged readings and more. Read on to meet some of these prominent women throughout SCR’s history.

An Overview of Women Directors

Casey Stangl: The Sisters Rosensweig (2018); Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business; In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play; Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!; Anastasia Krupnik; James and the Giant Peach; Venus in Fur; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane; The Light Princess; Flora & Ulysses; The Siegel and Ella Enchanted as well as numerous Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF) and NewSCRipts readings.

Jessica Kubzansky: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing; The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales; Orange and numerous PPF and NewSCRipts readings.

Shelley Butler: James and the Giant Peach; Charlotte’s Web; The Brand New Kid; A Wrinkle in Time; The Borrowers; OZ 2.5; A Doll’s House, Part 2 and many PPF and NewSCRipts readings.

May Adrales: Little Black Shadows (2018); Vietgone and various PPF and NewSCRipts readings.

Beth Lopes: Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook

Pam MacKinnon: The Parisian Woman; Completeness; Becky Shaw and Our Mother’s Brief Affair.

Seret Scott: Crumbs from the Table of Joy; The Piano Lesson; Fences and Topdog/Underdog.


Amy Freed has been an important playwright to South Coast Repertory since her first SCR commission in 1997, Freedomland. Freed’s writing is commonly focused in on the human condition, which creates a relatable setting for her intricate dramas. Her other plays include The Beard of Avon (SCR commission, 2001), Safe in Hell (SCR commission, 2004), Restoration Comedy (NewSCRipts reading, 2005), You, Nero (SCR commission, 2009) The Monster Builder (Pacific Playwrights Festival Reading, 2010, and production, 2017) and SHREW! (an SCR commission, running March 24-April 21, 2018, on the Segerstrom Stage). Her additional plays include Them That Are Perfect, Restoration Comedy, The Psychic Life of Savages, Still Warm and Claustrophilia. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Freedomland and also received the Joseph Kesselring Award and the Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play for The Psychic Life of Savages. Freed’s plays have been produced in numerous venues including the Arena Stage, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, The Flea, Goodman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theater, California Shakespeare Theater, The Canadian Stage Company and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She calls San Francisco home, where she is an artist-in-residence at Stanford University.


Playwright Lauren Yee has been earning raves since her play, King of Yees, debuted last year at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and at the Center Theatre Group in LA. ​Her current ​work, Cambodian Rock Band, is now playing at SCR on the Julianne Argyros Stage, March 4-25. With her plays quickly rising in popularity, Yee is in great demand. Her current and upcoming productions include The Great Leap, The Song of Summer, Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, Hookman, In a Word and Samsara. Her numerous awards and honors include Kesselring Prize, Francesca Primus Prize an upcoming Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, as well as the top two plays on the 2017 Kilroys List (for Cambodian Rock Band and The Great Leap). She is also a finalist for the American Theatre Critics Association/Harold Steinberg Award as well as the Edward M. Kennedy Prize. Yee is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab and an alumna playwright of the Playwrights Realm and is currently commissioned by the Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood Theatre, Portland Center Stage and Trinity Repertory.

Karen Zacarías, a popular playwright and SCR regular, has been called the most-produced Latina playwright in the country by the National Endowment for the Arts and noted as one of the top 10 produced playwrights by American Theatre Magazine. Her most recent works produced on SCR stages include Destiny of Desire (Segerstrom Stage, 2016) and Ella Enchanted: The Musical (Theatre for Young Audiences, 2017). Some of Zacarías’ other plays include Native Gardens, Olivério: A Brazilian Twist, Into the Beautiful North, The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana,  as well as the adaptations of Just Like Us and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Zacarías has produced 10 theatre for young audiences musicals (including Ella Enchanted: The Musical) with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Zacarías is a resident playwright at the Arena Stage and is a founder of the Latino Theatre Commons. She is the founder of the Young Playwrights’ Theatre, which teaches playwriting in the local public schools in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her husband and three children.

Lauren Gunderson was named the most-produced playwright in America by American Theatre Magazine in 2017. Her works at SCR include Silent Sky (commission/premiere, 2011) and Emilie: Le Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (commission, 2009). ​Works include Ada and the Engine, The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!, Background, Bauer, The Book of Will, By and By, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, Eye of the Beheld, I and You, Leap, Miss Bennet, Parts They call Deep, Rock Creek: Southern Gothic, The Revolutionists, The Taming, Toil & Trouble, and We Are Denmark. ​She is also a screenwriter and short story author. A native of Atlanta, Ga., she received her BA in English and creative writing from Emory University and her MFA in dramatic writing at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, where she was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

Julia Cho’s plays are familiar to SCR audiences, ​such as The Language Archive (Segerstrom Stage, 2010), The Piano Teacher (Argyros Stage, 2007) and Office Hour (Argyros Stage, 2016), all of which were produced at South Coast Repertory.  Cho is recognized for her other plays including Durango, The Winchester House, BFE, The Architecture of Loss and 99 Histories. A resident playwright at the New Dramatists since 2004, Cho’s works have been produced at venues such as the Vineyard Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop and East West Players, among others. She has been the recipient of various awards including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Barrie Stavis Award, the Claire Tow Award for Emerging Artists and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. An alumna of both Juilliard School and NYU’s Graduate Dramatic Writing Program, Cho’s play Durango was named one of the Top 10 plays of 2006 by Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times.