Julia Cho (born July 5, 1975) is a Korean-American playwright and television writer. In March 2020 she was awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize.[1]

Julia Cho
Born (1975-07-05) July 5, 1975 (age 49)
EducationAmherst College (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA)
New York University (MFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)

Select full length plays


99 Histories (2002)


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.

The Language Archive (2009)


The Language Archive depicts a dedicated linguist, George, who is unable to express himself after the break-up of his marriage. The play won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2010.[3] It premiered at Roundabout Theater Company directed by Mark Brokaw in 2010, and was staged at National Theatre Studio by Andrea Ferran in 2013.[4]

Office Hour (2016)


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)


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 plays


BFE (2003)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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.

Screen writing


As a screenwriter, Cho has written for the television series Big Love[5] and Fringe, along with the animated film Turning Red.



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 collaborators

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[6]
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)[7][8]
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
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"
Production Title Year Role Notes
Turning Red 2022 Screenwriter Co-written with Domee Shi

Personal life


As of 2010, Cho and her husband live in West Los Angeles.[5]

See also



  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. ^ "Julia Cho Wins 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Language Archive | TheaterMania". www.theatermania.com. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  4. ^ Isherwood, Charles (17 October 2010). "A Linguist at a Loss for Words Regarding Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b Wada, Karen (April 2, 2010). "Julia Cho is at home at South Coast Repertory". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Williamstown Theatre Festival webpage Archived 2010-12-27 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "2010 Winner: Julia Cho". Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25.
  8. ^ "Barry and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award". National Theatre Conference. Archived from the original on 2016-05-06.