Arlene Hutton is the author of Last Train to Nibroc, which received a New York Drama League Best Play nomination and was a finalist for the Francesca Primus Prize. Regional theatre credits include B Street, Chester Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Florida Studio Theatre, Kitchen Theatre, Mad Cow, Rubicon and Washington Stage Guild. Her plays, including I Dream Before I Take the Stand and As It Is In Heaven, have been presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Off- and Off-Off-Broadway, in London and throughout the world and are published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Playscripts and Dramatic Publishing. An alumna of New Dramatists and member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Honor Roll!, New Circle Theatre Company and New Light Theatre Company, Hutton is a three-time winner of the Samuel French Short Play Festival, nine-time finalist for the Heideman Award and recipient of the Lippman and Calloway awards. She has received commissions and grants from the EST/Sloan Foundation, NYSCA, the Bushwick Starr pet project, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Educational Theatre Association, the Big Bridge Theatre Consortium and the Carthage College New Play Initiative. Hutton has taught at the College of Charleston, Fordham University and the Sewanee Writers Conference and was twice named the Tennessee Williams Fellow at the University of the South. Residencies include the Australian National Playwrights Conference, Blue Mountain Center, MacDowell Colony, SPACE at Ryder Farm, VCCA, Winterthur and Yaddo. She lives in New York City.
- MFA in Acting, Florida State University / Asolo Conservatory
- BA in Theatre, Rollins Stage
Areas of Expertise
- Script Analysis
My grandmother, the wife of a Kentucky sharecropper, hand stitched quilts in the 1930s and one hangs on my living room wall, a perfect combination of art and craft. My plays are patchwork quilts, pieced together from what I’ve witnessed and experienced and thought about over a lifetime. My influences change as I change and my work is always evolving. Although I’m best known for a realistic front porch trilogy and some large cast historical dramas, my recent scripts return to my playwriting roots and earliest influences, looking at the world through a lens of absurdism, experimentation and theatricality, as I struggle to make sense of the changing times I’m living in. My plays are dark at times but ultimately hopeful, serious with notes of humor, and they always feature women as the major characters.
A quilt is put together in pieces and my plays are written in fragments. I start with an idea, a character, a place, an event. Lines of dialogue play in my head and I write down everything I can think of. I begin piecing scenes together, moving things around, adding and subtracting characters, dialogue and scenes as the story begins to emerge. The first draft is written quickly, the pieces sewn together without batting or backing, and the real craftsmanship comes in the rewrite, where I step back and look at what I have, defining the dramatic question and refining the overall structure. Eventually it all comes together through collaboration as readings and workshops become a sort of quilting bee, when discussions with dramaturgs, directors and actors help me fill in missing pieces. Although I strive for perfection, I never forget that handmaid quality is what makes a work unique.
I’m fascinated by process and always try to meet each student where they are at. Regardless of experience, we are always asking the same questions: How can I think theatrically? What is the dramatic question? How can I raise the stakes? What structure best tells the story? What can Aristotle teach us? Which plays and playwrights inspire us? What stories do we need to tell?
A self-producing playwright for my twenty-five-year career, I consider myself a theatre maker, with a view of all aspects of theatre-making. I’ve premiered my scripts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and co-produced my plays off-Broadway. I’ve directed off-Broadway and regionally. I began as a professional actress under my birth name, and it was a love of improv that led to playwriting. To support myself during my early years in New York, I worked in theatre management and took jobs as a dresser on Broadway and in film and television, including ten years behind the scenes at “Saturday Night Live.” Once married to a literary agent, I’m savvier than most playwrights about the business and always happy to share my contacts and expertise with other playwrights. Although I never dreamed of being a writer, and call myself “the accidental playwright,” it is a joy and privilege to work as an artist and teacher, following those who led the way and helping exciting new writers discover and explore their own unique voices.
- Susie Sits Shiva. Dramatists Play Service, 2022.
- The Shakers of Mount Lebanon Will Hold a Peace Conference This Month. DPS, 2022.
- Letters To Sala. Overlook Press, 2022.
- Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry. Playscripts, Inc., 2016
- The Nibroc Trilogy. Mote Books, 2015
- Letters To Sala. Dramatists Play Service, 2013.
- Happy Worst Day Ever. Dramatic Publishing, 2012.
- “Happy Worst Day Ever.” Dramatics Magazine, March, 2012.
- Running. Dramatists Play Service, 2012.
- Gulf View Drive. Dramatists Play Service, 2008.
- See Rock City. Dramatists Play Service, 2005.
- As It Is In Heaven. Dramatists Play Service, 2003.
- Last Train to Nibroc. Dramatists Play Service, 2000.
- “As It Is In Heaven.” Women Playwrights: Best Plays 2002 . Smith & Kraus, 2003.
- “Last Train to Nibroc.” Women Playwrights: Best Plays 1999 . Smith & Kraus, 2000.
- “The Incompleteness Theorem,” By the Numbers: the Math Plays, TRW, 2022
- “Hedy Lamarr Makes a Movie,” By the Numbers: the Math Plays, TRW, 2022Sunset Point. Next Stage Press, 2020.
- “Looking Back.” Technical Difficulties (Zoom plays). Dramatists Play Service, 2020
- “All the Cranes in the World.” Alone Together (Zoom plays). Dramatic Publishing, 2020
- “Neither Here Nor There.” Alone Together (Zoom plays). Dramatic Publishing, 2020
- “The Incompleteness Theorem.” The Best Ten-Minute Plays. Smith & Kraus, 2018.
- “Capturing the Fort.” The Best Ten-Minute Plays. Smith & Kraus, 2017.
- “Here Comes the Drone.” The Gorges Motel. Dramatists Play Service, 2017.
- “Here Comes the Drone.” The Best Ten-Minute Plays. Smith & Kraus, 2016.
- “Closing Costs.” Outstanding Short Plays, Vol 2. Dramatists Play Service, 2014.
- “Remedial Lessons.” Scenes from the Common Wealth: Short Plays by Kentucky Women. Motes, 2013.
- “Chocolates on the Pillow.” Best American Short Plays 2010, Applause Books, 2012.
- “I Dream Before I Take the Stand.” Drama: a Pocket Anthology. Pearson (Penguin) 2009.
- “I Dream Before I Take the Stand.” Portable Literature. Nelson Education, 2007.
- I Dream Before I Take the Stand. Playscripts, Inc., 2003.
- “A Closer Look.” Off-Off Broadway Festival Plays , Series #26. Samuel French, 2001.
- “Faerie Tale,” Plays and Playwrights 2001, New York Theatre Experience, 2001.
- “The Price You Pay.” Off-Off Broadway Festival Plays, Series #24. Samuel French, 1999.
- “Studio Portrait.” Off-Off Broadway Festival Plays, Series #23. Samuel French, 1998.
- “I Dream Before I Take the Stand.” Best American Short Plays, Applause Books, 1999.
- See Rock City, February 2-20, 2022, Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando, FL
- The Ginkgo Girls, April 28-May 8, 2022, New Circle Theatre Company, New York, NY
- Letters to Sala, May 6-15, 2022, La Porte Little Theatre Club, La Porte, IN
- Last Train to Nibroc, May 20-June 5, 2022, Ghent Playhouse, Ghent, NY