Stephen Adly Guirgis
Born1965 (age 58–59)
EducationUniversity at Albany, SUNY (BA)
Occupation(s)Playwright, screenwriter, director, actor

Stephen Adly Guirgis is an American playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor. He is a member and a former co-artistic director of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company.[1] His plays have been produced both Off-Broadway and on Broadway as well as in the UK. His play Between Riverside and Crazy won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Early life

Guirgis is the son of an Egyptian father and an Irish American mother.[2] He was raised on New York City's Upper West Side. He attended school in nearby Harlem and graduated from University at Albany, SUNY in 1992.[1][2] He studied theatre at HB Studio.[3]



Guirgis' play Between Riverside and Crazy premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in July 2014 and closed on August 23, 2014.[4] It then was produced by Second Stage Theatre, opening in previews on January 16, 2015, officially on February 11, 2015. Directed by Austin Pendleton, the play featured Stephen McKinley Henderson.[5] The play received a nomination for the 2015 Drama League Award, Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play.[6] The play won the 2015 Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.[7] The play won the 2015 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.[8] The play won the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Play.[9] Artists Repertory Theatre, located in Portland, Oregon, staged Between Riverside and Crazy from March 4 to April 1, 2018.[10] The show had its Broadway debut with previews beginning December 1, 2022, and opening on December 19, 2022.

His play The Motherfucker With the Hat was nominated for seven TONY Awards and premiered on Broadway in 2011 and featured Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabella Sciorra and Yul Vazquez.[11] It was also performed in San Francisco at San Francisco Playhouse in January 2013 where it received positive reviews.[12]

His award-winning most recent play Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven, directed by John Ortiz in 2019 in a LAByrinth Theater/Atlantic Theater co-production features a cast of eighteen plus a goat and garnered OBIE Awards for its two stars Liza Colon-Zayas and Elizabeth Rodriguez.

The Little Flower of East Orange, starring Ellen Burstyn and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, was produced Off-Broadway by the Labyrinth Theatre Company at The Public Theater, opening on April 6, 2008, and closing on May 4, 2008.[13][14] The play was developed at the Manhattan Theatre Club's "6 @ 7" series.[15]

His play Our Lady of 121st Street ran originally in an Off-Broadway production by the LAByrinth Theater at Center Stage/NY and then transferred to the Union Square Theatre from March 6, 2003, to July 27, 2003. The play was directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.[16] The play received: 10 best plays of 2003; Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Best Play nominations.[17]

Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, premiered Off-Broadway in a production by LAByrinth Theater Company in 2000.[18][19] It was produced in London at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002,[20] and was nominated for the Olivier Award, Best New Play for 2003,[21] as well as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award.[citation needed]

His play In Arabia We'd All Be Kings ran Off-Broadway in 1999.[22] A production at the Elephant Theatre Company in Hollywood, California in 2007 received four LA Drama Critic's Circle Awards: Production, Writing, Scenic Design and Lighting Design.[23]

His play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was produced Off-Broadway by LAByrinth at The Public Theatre in 2005 and was directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman,[24][25] and was named one of the year's "10 best" plays by Time magazine and Entertainment Weekly.[citation needed] The play completed a critically acclaimed run in London at the Almeida Theater on May 10, 2008.[26]

His one-act play, Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho, was directed by Adam Rapp as part of the 2006 E.S.T. Marathon.[27]

In Film, Stephen has contributed to the work of Halle Berry.

Television writing credits include NYPD Blue,[26] David Milch's short-lived CBS drama Big Apple,[1] and Shane Salerno's short-lived NBC series UC: Undercover. Guirgis collaborated with Academy Award nominated director Baz Luhrmann on The Get Down, a Netflix Series about the birth of hip-hop in the 1970s.[28]


He developed and directed Liza Colón-Zayas' play Sistah Supreme for Danny Hoch's Hip Hop Theater Festival in 2000[29] Marco Greco's award-winning Behind the Counter with Mussolini at the York Theatre (1998 in New York)[30] and Los Angeles (1999 and 2002),[31] and directed Melanie Maras' Kiss Me on the Mouth for InViolet Rep in 2009.[32]


As an actor, Guirgis is currently a series regular portraying Frank Mariani on HBO's "Winning Time". He appeared in Brett C. Leonard's stage play Guinea Pig Solo, produced by LAByrinth at the Public Theater in 2004.[33] He has had supporting roles in films such as Todd Solondz's Palindromes (2004),[34] Brett C. Leonard's Jailbait (2004), and Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret (2011).[35] Other credits include the 1997 Law & Order episode "Terminal" and films such as Meet Joe Black (1998),[36] Blackbird (2007),[37] Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot (2007),[38] Noise (2007),[39] Synecdoche, New York (2008),[40] and Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut Jack Goes Boating (2010).


In mid-2017 Guirgis was embroiled in a public copyright debate with a small theater in San Francisco who had produced a highly edited and altered version of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. While he was initially sympathetic to the issues surrounding the production, when the theater refused to provide a suitable insert in the show notes explaining their edits were made without the playwright's permission, Guirgis became incensed and had the show shut down.[41][42]

Personal life

Guirgis has used improvisational theater to "teach HIV/AIDS prevention, conflict resolution, and leadership" in prisons, schools, shelters, and hospitals.[43] Guirgis was close professional and personal friends with late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman[41] with whom he was a frequent collaborator.

Awards, nominations, and honors

Guirgis was awarded a 2006 PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career,[44] a 2006 Whiting Award,[45] and a 2004 TCG fellowship. He attended the 2006 Sundance Screenwriter's Lab, [46] and was named one of 2004's 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine.

In 2014, Guirgis was awarded the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

Guirgis is the recipient of new play commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, Center Theater Group, and South Coast Repertory. He is a member of New Dramatists, MCC's Playwright's Coalition, New River Dramatists, Primary Stages, and the Actors Studio Playwright/Directors Unit.

He received the 2013 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize.[47]

He received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Between Riverside and Crazy[48]

Our Lady of 121st Street received the Lucille Lortel Award nomination, Outstanding Play, Outstanding Director (Hoffman); 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, John Glassner Award; Drama Desk Award nomination, Director (Hoffman) and Outstanding Play[49]

He received a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2016.

Plays written by Guirgis



  1. ^ a b c d Blake, Leslie (Hoban). "Comin' Uptown", Theatermania, 23 August 2002.
  2. ^ a b c Fisher, Philip. Interviews: Stephen Adly Guirgis,, 2001 (sic).
  3. ^ HB Studio Alumni
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Purcell, Carey. "Stephen Adly Guirgis Premiere, 'Between Riverside And Crazy', Closes at the Atlantic", August 23, 2014
  5. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Replaces 'American Psycho' with 'Between Riverside and Crazy'", Variety, October 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew. "2015 Drama League Awards Nominations Announced; More Than 45 Will Vie for Distinguished Performance Honor" Archived June 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, April 21, 2015.
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  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " 'Hamilton' and 'Between Riverside and Crazy' Win 2015 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards", May 4, 2015
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  10. ^ "2017/18 Season" Archived November 23, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Healy, Patrick. "Chris Rock Takes On Broadway in 'Hat'", The New York Times blog, October 22, 2010.
  12. ^ "SF Gate". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  13. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. " 'The Little Flower of East Orange', Starring Ellen Burstyn, Opens Off-Broadway April 6",, April 6, 2008.
  14. ^ " 'The Little Flower of East Orange' Listing",, accessed April 20, 2015.
  15. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Off-Broadway Dates Set for Guirgis' 'Little Flower of East Orange'",, January 7, 2008.
  16. ^ "'Our Lady of 121st Street' Ends Off-Broadway Run at Union Square, June 29",, June 12, 2003.
  17. ^ "Listing",, accessed April 20, 2015.
  18. ^ "Listing" Archived April 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine,, accessed May 5, 2015.
  19. ^ Gutman, Les. "Review", November 28, 2000
  20. ^ Billington, Michael. "Review. 'Jesus Hopped the A Train' " The Guardian, 13 March 2002
  21. ^ "Olivier Winners 2003",, accessed May 5, 2015.
  22. ^ McGrath, Sean and Simonson, Robert. "Philip Seymour Hoffman to Stay in OB 'Arabia' Until July 23", July 13, 1999
  23. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "L.A. Drama Critics Embrace '13', Stephen Adly Guirgis and 'Zanna, Don't!' in Annual Awards",, March 18, 2008.
  24. ^ "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot". Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database. Lucille Lortel Foundation. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  25. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "Review. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot ",, February 27, 2005.
  26. ^ a b Rees, Jasper. "Stephen Adly Guirgis: When Judas came to New York", The Telegraph, 22 March 2008.
  27. ^ Gates, Anita. "Language of the Street, Quirks of the Heart", The New York Times, June 22, 2006.
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam, "Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis Collaborating on Hip-Hop Television Project"., December 13, 2013.
  29. ^ Ehren, Christine. "Colon-Zayas' 'Sistah Supreme' Steps Up at Hip Hop Fest, June 28",, June 28, 2000.
  30. ^ "'Behind the Counter with Mussolini' Listing, York Theatre, Craetives",, accessed April 21, 2015.
  31. ^ Ehren, Christine. " 'Behind the Counter With Mussolini' Returns to L.A. Feb. 7-March 30", February 2, 2002
  32. ^ Bacalzo, Dan. "Stephen Adly Guirgis to Direct 'Kiss Me on the Mouth'",, October 8, 2009.
  33. ^ "'Guinea Pig Solo' Listing", accessed April 21, 2015
  34. ^ " 'Palindromes' Listing",, accessed April 21, 2015.
  35. ^ " 'Margaret' Listing",, accessed April 21, 2015.
  36. ^ " 'Meet Joe Black' Cast",, accessed April 21, 2015.
  37. ^ Blackbird, accessed April 21, 2015
  38. ^ " 'Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot' Cast", New York Times, accessed May 5, 2015.
  39. ^ " 'Noise' Cast", accessed May 5, 2015.
  40. ^ Birdman, Charlie Kaufman's 'Synecdoche, New York' Cast and Crew",, accessed April 21, 2015.
  41. ^ a b "Stephen Adly Guirgis Speaks Out After Shutting Down Theatre for Unauthorized Cuts to Judas Iscariot | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  42. ^ Musbach, Julie (August 6, 2017). "UPDATE: Shelton Theatre's Unsanctioned Adaptation is Shut Down Due to Copyright Infringement". Broadway World. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  43. ^ Klein, Judith M. "Growing Up With the Hat", The New York Times, June 21, 2011.
  44. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Adrienne Kennedy and Stephen Adly Guirgis Win 2006 PEN/ Laura Pels Awards for Drama", May 2, 2006.
  45. ^ "2006 Winner, Drama", accessed April 21, 2015.
  46. ^ "Six Artists Selected For The 2006 Sundance Playwrights Retreat", January 26, 2006
  47. ^ Dorie Baker (March 4, 2013). "Yale awards $1.35 million to nine writers". YaleNews. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  48. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes Drama".
  49. ^ "Listing", accessed April 22, 2015