BroadwayRadio Special: Interview with Adam Szymkowicz, Life of a Playwright

James Marino speaks with Adam Szymkowicz about making a life as a playwright.


Guest: Adam Szymkowicz, Playwright


ADAM SZYMKOWICZ’s plays have been produced throughout the U.S., and in Canada, England, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Turkey, South Korea, Thailand, Slovenia and Lithuania. His work has been presented or developed at such places as Portland Center Stage, MCC Theater, Ars Nova, South Coast Rep, Playwrights Horizons, LCT3, LAByrinth Theater Company, The Lark, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Primary Stages and The New Group, among others.

Published plays include Deflowering Waldo, Pretty Theft, Food For Fish, Hearts Like Fists, Incendiary, Clown Bar, The Why Overhead, Adventures of Super Margaret, 7 Ways To Say I Love You, Rare Birds, Marian Or The True Tale of Robin Hood, and Nerve. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Playscripts, Broadway Play Publishing, Original Works Publishing, and featured in New York Theatre Review, the Dionysian, NYTE’s Cino Nights, Geek Theater, and numerous Smith and Kraus books.

He was the premiere Resident Playwright at The Chance Theater in Anaheim, CA and the first playwright to participate in Bloomington Playwrights Projects’ Square One Series. He has been to The Orchard Project and to JAW at Portland Center Stage, served twice as Playwright in Residence at the William Inge Center, and took part in The Dramatists Guild Fund’s Traveling Masters program. Szymkowicz received a grant from the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, and has been commissioned by South Coast Rep, Rising Phoenix Rep, Texas State University, The NOLA Project, Single Carrot Theater, and Flux Theater Ensemble.

Adam received a Playwright’s Diploma from The Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program and an MFA from Columbia University where he was the Dean’s Fellow. Szymkowicz is a two-time Lecomte du Nouy Prize winner, a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writer’s Guild of America, and was a member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group, the MCC Playwright’s Coalition and of the first Ars Nova Play Group.

He has interviewed over 1000 playwrights on his blog. Szymkowicz is the Literary Manager at The Juilliard School, supporting the playwriting program there. For more, go to

Adam on Twitter @AdamSzymkowicz | Facebook | Instagram


Topics mentioned:

Colchester, Connecticut

UMass Dartmouth

MFA @ Columbia University

The Juilliard School 

Literary Manager @ Juilliard

Gillette Castle State Park

List of Adam’s Plays

Deflowering Waldo

Playwrights’ Platform | helping you go from page to the stage.

Baker’s Plays

Samuel French (Sam French)

Dramatists Play Service

Avengers With Motives Personal, Professional and Just Because
‘Hearts Like Fists’ by Adam Szymkowicz Staged by Flux Theater
NYT Critic’s Pick,  Secret Theater, 4402 23rd St.

Take This Job and Obsess About It (Sing, Too)
‘The Why Overhead’ by Adam Szymkowicz at Access Theater
Access Theater, 380 Broadway

Where Everybody Knows Your Bad Jokes and Puns
Clown Bar by Adam Szymkowicz
NYT Critic’s Pick, Parkside Lounge, 317 E. Houston St.
By Ken Jaworowski

2018: Adam had thirty productions of his plays

Adam Szymkowicz January 28, 2019 
Don Zolidis posted about play markets and I’m reposting here. Lots of good info.

  1. BROADWAY – an unlimited run, a possibility of more money from a production than I make in a year. How to get on Broadway? Get Daniel Radcliffe to be in your show. Seriously.
  2. OFF-BROADWAY – a possibility of an unlimited run, good money – you can live off an off-Broadway production of your show. Plus, when you’re done, it can go on to…
  3. REGIONAL – Like Adam said, 5-20K per production. Regional Theatres don’t really take submissions and usually are going to do whatever hot show just ran Off-Broadway. Some playwrights can rack up 5-10 regional productions per year and make a good living.
  4. SMALL PROFESSIONAL THEATRE – these are the NNPN theatres, and other small venues. They will take a chance on a new play, and sometimes more than one NNPN theatre will do a show in a rolling world premiere. Each production might land you 1-5K in royalties.
  5. COMMUNITY THEATRE – thousands and thousands of community theatres in this country – probably doing 2-3 weekend runs of a show – a community theatre run might earn $500-$1,000 for a playwright.
  6. COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES – Tough shit. They’re doing Oedipus again.
  7. HIGH SCHOOL/MIDDLE SCHOOL – 20-30,000 venues in the U.S. alone. They will take a chance on a new show. You might make $50-200 bucks on a production. The key here is volume – writing lots of plays.
  8. THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCE – TYA theatre – this is adults performing for children, quite often small children – (think FROG AND TOAD DO WHATEVER) there are fewer of these theatres, but you can make a solid income from a production here.
    So, the money is better in professional theatres, but it’s more CONSISTENT in high school/middle school venues. I can fairly accurately predict how often I’ll get produced in a given year. With professional theatres, it’s luck, a bolt from the blue, and connections to get you in the door. You can’t really count on having multiple regional theatre productions, or even following up an Off-Broadway play with another Off-Broadway play. The people who are getting produced this year might not be the people getting produced in five years.

League of Resident Theatres (LORT)

National New Play Network (NNPN)

New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep)

Don Zolidis, playwright, novelist, and former middle and high school teacher

20,000 – 30,000 High Schools that produce plays every year

Theatre of Note (Los Angeles, CA)

Flux Theatre Ensemble (New York, NY)

Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center (Anaheim, CA)

House of Payne (TV Series)

Kristen Palmer, playwright (Adam’s wife)

1000 Playwright Interviews by Adam:

Adam Szymkowicz: I Interview Playwrights Part 233: Martyna Majok (Aug 6, 2010)

Cost of Living, by Martyna Majok – The Pulitzer Prizes (2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)

I Interview Playwrights Part 540: Don Zolidis

Playscripts, Inc.: Discover Plays

Morgan Gould

“I’d really like to be a playwright, can you give me advice…”

Adam Szymkowicz: Advice for playwrights starting out (Jan 26, 2009)

I Interview Playwrights Part 971: Paula Vogel (Aug 24, 2017)


Music: Acoustic Breeze from

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