Naomi Wallace

Naomi Wallace (born 1960) is an American playwright, screenwriter and poet from Kentucky. She is widely known for her plays, and has received several distinguished awards for her work.

Naomi Wallace
Naomi and raccoon.jpg
Wallace and raccoon in Kentucky
Born1960 (age 62–63)
EducationHampshire College (BA)
University of Iowa (MFA)


Naomi Wallace was born in Prospect, Kentucky, to Henry F. Wallace, a photo journalist and correspondent for Time and Life magazines, and Sonja de Vries, a Dutch justice and human rights worker.[1][2]

Wallace obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College. She then received two master's degrees from the University of Iowa. Currently, she divides her time between Kentucky and the Yorkshire Dales in Northern England (UK), where she lives with her partner, Bruce McLeod, with whom she has three children.

Jeremy Scahill and Naomi Wallace giving a writing workshop in New Haven

Wallace has taught English literature, poetry and playwrighting at Yale University, UCLA, University of Iowa, Illinois State University, Merrimack College, Hampshire College, American University of Cairo, Vrije University of Amsterdam and other institutions. She has also worked with women in the criminal justice system, and is a member of SURJ, Showing up for Racial Justice.[3] She has been called "a dedicated advocate for justice and human rights in the U.S. and abroad, and Palestinian rights in the Middle East,"[4] and her writing described as "muscular, devastating, and unwavering."[5]

In the mid-2000s, Wallace was briefly detained by Homeland Security after defying the ban on travel to Cuba.[6]

In August 2016, Wallace was one of the Freedom Riders with the Women's Boat to Gaza.[7]

Wallace is a supporter of the B.D.S. movement and Jewish Voices for Peace.


Wallace's plays are published in the U.S. by Broadway Play Publishing Inc., Theatre Communications Group, Faber and Faber in the UK, and éditions Théâtrales in France. Wallace's work has been produced in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe,[8] and the Middle East.


Wallace's work has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (twice), the Joseph Kesselring Prize, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, and an Obie Award. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant.[9]

In 2009, One Flea Spare was incorporated into the permanent répertoire of the French National Theatre, the Comédie-Française, and produced there in 2012. Wallace is the only living American playwright to enter the répertoire. Only two American playwrights have ever been added to La Comédie's repertoire in 300 years: the other being Tennessee Williams. The play was translated into French by Dominique Hollier.

In 2012, Wallace was a recipient of the Horton Foote Prize for most promising new American play.

In 2013, she was awarded the inaugural Windham–Campbell Literature Prize established at Yale University.[10]

In 2015, Wallace received an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The award citation reads: "Naomi Wallace is a powerful and essential voice who brings to the theater great lyricism and moral courage. Her characters, so cruelly treated and often destroyed, speak with a direct and devastating poetry. Never does this dramatist mollify or fail to engage us on the deepest level, and her three "Visions" of the Middle East that comprise The Fever Chart are short, stark masterworks."


Signature Theater, the Off Broadway company that has historically mounted a season of plays, produced three of Wallace's plays in 2014–2015, including the world premiere of Night is a Room.


  • In The Heart of America
  • One Flea Spare
  • The Inland Sea
  • Slaughter City
  • The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek
  • The Girl Who Fell Through a Hole in Her Jumper (with Bruce E. J. McLeod; licensed under the title The Girl Who Fell Through a Hole in Her Sweater in the United States)
  • The War Boys
  • Things of Dry Hours
  • Birdy (an adaptation of William Wharton's novel)
  • The Fever Chart: Three Visions of the Middle East
  • Twenty One Positions: A Cartographic Dream of the Middle East (co-written with Lisa Schlesinger and AbdelFattah Abu Srour)
  • The Hard Weather Boating Party
  • One Short Sleepe
  • And I and Silence
  • The Liquid Plain
  • Night is a Room
  • Barrel Wave
  • Returning to Haifa (co-adapted with Ismail Khalid)




  • To Dance A Stony Field (Peterloo Poets Press).



  1. ^ Cummings, Scott T.; Abbitt, Erica Stevens (December 18, 2013). The Theatre of Naomi Wallace: Embodied Dialogues. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137017925. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  2. ^ "A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater - Naomi Wallace". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  3. ^ "Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "CHASS: IN THE HEART OF AMERICA by Naomi Wallace". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "Windham Campbell Prizes – Naomi Wallace". The Donald Windham-Sandy Campbell Literature Prizes. Yale University. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Lyn Gardner (February 6, 2007). "Enemy within". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ Catron, Joe. "Women's Boat to Gaza Prepares a New Challenge to Israel's Blockade". Truthout. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  8. ^ "Naomi Wallace". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Naomi Wallace's Development Process for "The Hard Weather Boating Party"". New Play Blog. New Play Development Program, Arena Stage. March 13, 2009. Archived from the original on October 5, 2010.
  10. ^ Dorie Baker (March 4, 2013). "Yale awards $1.35 million to nine writers". YaleNews. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  11. ^ Wallace, Naomi; Khalidi, Ismail (eds.). "Browse Titles - Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora". Theatre Communications Group. Archived from the original on July 25, 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Lawn Dogs". May 15, 1998. Retrieved August 12, 2016 – via IMDb.

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