Julia Cho

Julia Cho is an American playwright and television writer. In March 2020 she was awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize.[1]

Julia Cho
Born1975 (age 45–46)
EducationAmherst College (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA)
New York University (MFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)

Select full length playsEdit

99 Histories (2002)Edit

99 Histories is a drama portraying the narratives of Eunice, a young woman who discovers her unexpected pregnancy. She recalls her childhood as a musical prodigy, but soon finds out about the negative and dark past that she endured through. This play explores the themes of memory, the emotional bond between mother and child, and a Korean cultural concept of Chung. According to Julia Cho, herself in her interview with LA Times, Chung is “what exists between people who are so closely bonded that, for better or worse, each is essential to the other’s achieving full self-hood.”[2]

Before the official premier, 99 Histories was presented as a staged reading at Mark Taper Forum (2001), Sundance Institute Theatre Lab (2001), New York Theatre Workshop (2002), and South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwrights Festival (2002). It premiered from April 9 to 25 of 2004 at the Theater Mu, located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, directed by Cecilie D. Keenan.

Office Hour (2016)Edit

Office Hour was Julia Cho's reaction to the Virginia Tech mass-shooting in 2007. This play consists of four characters. Cho writes specifically about Gina's attempts to converse with Dennis and convince him to attend her office hours. It addresses the concept of “good” and “bad” as well as the violent tendencies that Dennis possesses. It explores the reason that college students may resort to violence. Cho also tries to address the widely held misconception that most mass shooters are caucasian males. This exploration is done through casting Ki-Hong Lee, a Korean American actor, for the role of Dennis in the premiere performances.

Aubergine (2017)Edit

Aubergine (2017) is a play that explores the concept of Asian American identity through family and memory. She specifically states that “The play at its core is also just a play about life: about the things that we carry with us, the things that we eat, and why we eat the things we eat.” Discussion of food and identity in Aubergine incorporates the discussion of diaspora, which can be characterized by individuals’ experiences away from their homeland. Cho expands on the concept of 1.5 and second generations of Korean American immigrants throughout the play.

She focuses on the discussion of identity issues through dramaturgically assigning roles that food serves in increasing accessibility of the conversation as a whole. Her writing explores themes that are universal in nature through “constructing different subjectivity” that evokes sympathy regardless of one's identity. Julia Cho was one of the five playwrights whose works were performed as parts of “Korea Diaspora Season” in National Theater Company of Korea in Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. Aubergine returned to the National Theater of Korea on March 6, 2018.

Other full length playsEdit

BFE (2003)Edit

BFE depicts the life of a fourteen-year-old girl, Panny. Julia Cho explores the concept of childhood and adulthood through the narratives of Panny's first-year experience at a high school.

The Architecture of Loss (2004)Edit

The Architecture of Loss consists of reminiscent and multitude of perspectives through the lenses of Greg, a father whose son disappears. This play depicts the day that his son returns home and tries to address the aftermaths and influences that his disappearance had had on the family as a whole. The sense of loss is explored through not only the literal disappearance of a person but also through the effects that an incident like that has on the remaining family.

Durango (2006)Edit

Durango is a play about a Korean immigrant, Boo-Seng Lee's narrative about his immigrant experiences as a single father with two sons. Expectations based on the idea of the “American Dream” against the reality is clearly demonstrated through his experiences in the American southwest.

The Winchester House (2006)Edit

The Winchester House is V's story—a narrative about her contemplation of her identity and its development. When she is given the chance to examine and confront her past, she is also given a choice: to tell the same, original narrative or to tell a new one.

The Piano Teacher (2007)Edit

The Piano Teacher is about Mrs. K's nostalgia and the effects of her decision to contact her former piano students. Memories can be a positive force that reduces sense of loneliness and solitude—it can also be a negative force that opens up the possibilities of darker truths.

The Language Archive (2009)Edit

The Language Archive depicts a dedicated linguist, George and his inabilities to utilize words to express himself upon his wife, Mary's departure. He is depicted as a linguist who passionately tries to record dying languages around the globe.

Screen writingEdit

As a screenwriter, Cho has written for the television series Big Love[3] and Fringe.


Julia Cho's plays are described to make no explicit recognition or celebration of Korea, but rather naturally embedded in the stories by Mee Won Lee, Korean theatre studies professor at Korea National University of Arts. Her works specifically depict women influenced by the Korean diaspora. BFE, for instance, depicts a Korean American woman who had to endure through exorcized stereotypes about Asian women. Another example is Nora, the female protagonist of The Architecture of Loss, who immigrated to the United States following her marriage to an American soldier. 99 Histories illustrate the life of Eunice, former cello prodigy, struggling through depression and unsettlement in her family.[citation needed]

Notable works and collaboratorsEdit

Full Length Plays
Title Year Producer/Theatre Company Cast Required Awards/Honors
99 Histories 2002 Pacific Playwrights Festival

South Coast Repertory

4 females (1 teen)

2 males

2002 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist
BFE 2003 Seattle Repertory Theatre

Playwrights Horizons

5 females

4 males

2004 L. Arnold Weissberger Award[4]
The Architecture of Loss 2004 NY Theatre Workshop 2 females

5 males

Durango 2006 Public Theater (New York) 5 males 2005 Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award (National Theatre Conference)[5][6]
The Winchester House 2006 Boston Court 3 females

3 males

Musician (Gender unspecified)

The Piano Teacher 2007 South Coast Repertory 2 females

1 male

The Language Archive 2009 South Coast Repertory 3 females

2 males

Office Hour 2016 South Coast Repertory 2 females

2 males

Aubergine 2017 Playwrights Horizons

National Theater of Korea

2 females

4 males

How To Be a Good Son 2004 Kobe City University of Foreign Studies
Bay and the Spectacles of Doom 2005 La Jolla Theater's POP Tour
100 Most Beautiful Names of Todd 2006 Ensemble Studio Theatre
First Tree in Antarctica 2007 Ensemble Studio Theatre
Post It 2008 Thumping Class (Festival of One-acts, Actor's Playpen)
Round and Round 2008 Milagro Theater
Screen Writing
Production Title Year Relevant Episodes Position
Big Love 2010 End of Days Story editor
Next Ticket Out
Blood Atonement
Under One Roof
The Mighty and Strong
Strange Bedfellows
The Greater Good
Free at Last
2011 Where Men and Mountains Meet Executive story editor
The Noose Tightens
The Special Relationship
The Oath
Certain Poor Shepherds
A Seat at the Table
Betrayal 2013 It's just You and Me Now... Producer
...Except When the Bear Is Chasing You
Halt and Catch Fire 2017 Search Producer
Ten of Swords
Who Needs a Guy
A Connection Is Made
Nowhere Man
Tonya and Nancy
Signal to Noise
So It Goes

Personal lifeEdit

As of 2010, Cho and her husband live in West Los Angeles.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Flood, Alison (2020-03-19). "Eight authors share $1m prize as writers face coronavirus uncertainty". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  2. ^ BOEHM, MIKE (2002-04-23). "'Histories' Unlocks the Past". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  3. ^ a b Wada, Karen (April 2, 2010). "Julia Cho is at home at South Coast Repertory". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Williamstown Theatre Festival webpage Archived 2010-12-27 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "2010 Winner: Julia Cho". Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25.
  6. ^ "Barry and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award". National Theatre Conference. Archived from the original on 2016-05-06.

External linksEdit