Rebecca Gilman was born and raised in Trussville, Ala. She enjoyed reading plays as a child, especially those of George Bernard Shaw, whom she admired for his willingness to take a stand on controversial issues. Gilman attended Middlebury College and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1987. She also earned an MA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Gilman began writing plays while still in college. After completing her education, she moved to Chicago, where she supported herself by working temporary clerical jobs while writing in her spare time.
Gilman became a member of the Chicago Dramatists group, whose artistic director persuaded the Circle Theatre to produce her play The Glory of Living in 1997. This play went on to win several awards and prompted the Goodman Theatre to give her its Scott McPherson Award as a commission to create a new play, which became Spinning Into Butter. Since then, her plays have been produced in New York and London, as well as Chicago. Gilman and the Goodman Theatre have jointly received a Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work. This money was used to write and produce her play Blue Surge. Gilman received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2001. In 2002, Gilman moved to Columbus, Ohio, but she recently returned to Chicago, where she is on the faculty of the School of Communication at Northwestern University. A recent production is an adaptation for the stage of Carson McCullers' novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
Rebecca Gilman's plays feature powerful characters who find themselves in difficult, sometimes horrific, circumstances. Her work tackles controversial themes and displays human behavior in an honest manner.
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Photo by Joan Marcus; courtesy of the Alabama Writers' Forum.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.