Heather McDonald 

Playwright, Director, Screenwriter, Librettist, Teacher

Flowers at Faulkner's HouseFlowers at William Faulkner's House

Recent ~ Taught Master Classes in The Playwriting Intensives at The Kennedy Center. Participated in MIGRAR, a workshop with Kamchatka Theatre Company, creating a site-specific piece that was presented as part of Global Perspectives at The 2016 TCG National Theatre Conference. Developed new play, Astronaut Training: Truth & Beauty Bombs, an adaptation of the online comic "A Softer World," for Rorschach Theatre where it was produced in 2015 directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick. Workshopped new play, Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, with director Joe Calarco at Signature Theatre. In residence at DePauw University Fall 2015 as The Mary Rogers Field Distinguished University Professor of Creative Writing. Finalist for the Sundance Theatre Lab MENA Project. Directed Middletown by Will Eno and served as Artistic Director (founder and creator) for The Tenth Anniversary of The Ten Minute Play Festival. 


Heather McDonald's plays include Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, An Almost Holy Picture, When Grace Comes In, Dream of a Common Language, Available Light, The Rivers and Ravines, Faulkner's Bicycle, The Two Marys, Rain and Darkness and, upcoming, The Suppressed-Desire Ball (developed at Sundance - Ucross Writers Retreat). Her work has been produced on Broadway (starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Michael Mayer) and Off Broadway and at such theatres as The Roundabout Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The actors Theatre of Louisville ~ Humana Festival of New Plays, The La Jolla Playhouse and Internationally in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England and Mexico. 


A recent devised work, STAY, was the result of a two year collaboration with choreographer Susan Shields, STAY combines theatre, dance, music and SLAM multimedia projections. Working with a company of actors, dancers, a photographer/filmmaker and set and lighting designers, STAY was built in workshops at Theater of The First Amendment and Woolly Mammoth Theatre and was produced at The Shakespeare Theatre at The Lansburgh.



Ms. McDonald wrote the libretto for the opera, The End of the Affair, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene. She and composer Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking) were commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and the opera premiered at HGO and went on to have several more national and international productions.

She has also directed many productions and has been active in the DC Theatre Community, most recently directing Middletown by Will Eno, Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a steampunk version of The Elephant Man, The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonogh and the world premiere of Two-Bit Taj Mahal by Paul D'Andrea. Other favorite productions are The Smell of the Kill by Michele Lowe produced at Round House Theatre and Available Light at Signature Theatre. The production she directed of her own play, Dream of a Common Language, was nominated for eight Helen Hayes Awards (including Best Direction) and won four Helen Hayes Awards including Outstanding Resident Production. 

William Faulkner's Typewriter

Her work has been honored with a nomination for The Pulitzer Prize, three NEA Playwriting Fellowships, The First Prize Kesselring Award and she was a finalist for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Inc. and in several collections. She has written and sold two screenplays and is developing a new project for television. She was recently invited to be one of six writers in Arena Stage's new program Playwrights' Arena and developed her newest work, Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, as part of the Kogod Cradle Series. She gave a TED Talk, Locate The Ache: Why Story Matters, as part of TEDx 2013 at George Mason University. She received her MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is Professor of Theatre and Writer-in-Residence at George Mason University.


"You are more authentic the more you resemble what you've dreamed to be."  

Pedro Almodovar

"All art is autobiographical;

the pearl is the oyster's autobiography." 

Federico Fellini

"Make a space. Begin again. Paint over the canvas. Begin Again. Concentrate. Get serious. Breathe. Call forth your spirit to a purpose. Reach your hands into the materials of the living world and express the present and, so, the future. Joy is joined to courage, courage to spirit, spirit to goodness. Concentrate on the construction of the coming days." 

John Patrick Shanley