Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel once said that theater helps us learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable with each other. Revolving around the theme of "this is who we are," the one-act plays in this latest edition of the Best American Short Plays series (now in its ninth decade) explore the thoughtful ways in which playwrights are wrestling to make sense of our world today. The selected plays reflect how we perform our identities (private and public) and how we negotiate who we are with others who often have different perspectives, perspectives that make us uncomfortable. The theme of this collection is topical and apt as our country continues to shore up its borders along party lines, from pride parades to strict abortion laws, from inclusivity in education curricula to children in detention centers at the US-Mexico border. Each of the plays presents a clear reflection of who we are (and who we aspire to be) as individuals and as a nation. The styles of the plays also reflect different approaches to storytelling: two characters, four characters, a single setting, multiple settings, or a utopian "nowhere." The rich and compelling characters try to work out their differences and overcome obstacles using humor and a sense of magic that comes with simple moments of human connection. This is who we are: people who are grappling with the desire to be understood, the hope to be loved and accepted, and to allow that hope to shape a larger sense of who we could be if we continue to work and listen.
About the Author
JOHN PATRICK BRAY is a playwright, screenwriter, and teacher at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. He has been a semifinalist for both the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and Princess Grace Foundation Playwriting Award, and winner of the Appalachian Festival of Playwrights and Plays. He serves as a resident writer for the New York indie theater troupe Rising Sun Performance Company. He has edited The Best Plays from American Theatre Festivals 2015 and coedited The Best American Short Plays 2015-2016 for Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. Bray serves as an Atlanta Regional Ambassador for the Dramatists' Guild of America, Inc. He lives in Athens, Georgia.