Page extent: 112
ISBN: 9781783190911
Binding: PaperBack

The Body of an American

Dan O'Brien


Mogadishu, 1993. Paul is a Canadian photojournalist who is about to take a picture that will win him the Pulitzer Prize. Princeton, the present day, Dan is an American writer who is struggling to finish his play about ghosts. Both men live worlds apart but a chance encounter over the airwaves sparks an extraordinary friendship that sees them journey from some of the most dangerous places on earth to the depths of the human soul.Flying from Kabul to the Canadian High Arctic, The Body of an American sees two actors jump between more than thirty roles in an exhilarating new form of documentary drama. It urgently places these two men’s battles – both public and private –against a backdrop of some of the world’s most iconic images of war.

The Body of an American is the recipient of the 2013 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. It also received the PEN Center USA Award for Drama and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award, and premiered at Portland Center Stage in 2012, directed by Bill Rauch. The play was the recipient of the McKnight National Residency & Commission from the Playwrights’ Center, as well as a Sundance Institute Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship and a TCG Future Collaborations Grant.

For further information and resources on this play, visit the Edward M Kennedy website:


Additional Information

ISBN13 9781783190911
Binding PaperBack
Page Extent 112


‘A play that tightens its grip as it probes where war lives, and discovers we each carry it inside ourselves’ Guardian

‘…provides ample food for thought…Moment by moment the livewire, oddly introspective theatrical experience keeps us on our toes, and accumulatively it presents us with a debate about where we should draw the line between observation and involvement, what’s good about curiosity and what’s bad’ Telegraph

'The Body of an American is a play about writing a play but it’s also an intricate meditation on the nature of memory and guilt' Evening Standard

'A feisty docu-drama about Paul Watson...a fascinating mix of troubled and troubling biography and autobiography...holds you in a steely grip' Time Out

'An engrossingly subjective docu-drama which feels psychologically acute and politically important...a really superb piece of theatre.' Stage

The Body of an American is as richly poetic as it is pixel sharp. It’s the document of a relationship that began as art and became something like therapy, it’s a play about violence and the power of the image, and of facing the difficult truths about your privileged place in the world. The Body of an American is a stunning, complex piece of theatre that refuses to be tamed or drawn into conclusions. There is no moralising or sanding down of rough or difficult edges…It’s the story of two lives flicking through one another for answers, a record of vital but insoluble moral questioning’ Exeunt

‘A blistering two-hander about war, photography and the questionable morality of writers. It’s harrowing, eye-opening and hugely entertaining’ Northampton Herold & Post

‘This play is an extraordinary exploration of mental health, war and friendship. Unrelentingly gripping, The Body of an American will lodge itself in the mind and there it will remain, hopefully and deservedly, for a long time’ The Upcoming

‘One of the most exciting and original new plays that you’re ever likely to see. I’m still reeling from the experience. Fascinating and immensely powerful’ WOW 24/7

Also by this author