Award-winning playwright LYDIA STRYK was born in DeKalb, Illinois, the birthplace of barbed wire and flying ears of corn. She grew up between DeKalb and London, England, and as a child also lived in Japan where she studied Kabuki and performed on the stage, and in Iran. After high school, she trained at the Drama Centre, London, and pursued an acting career in New York for exactly one year before returning to school to study History at Hunter College and then Journalism at NYU.
While interning at the weekly journal, The Nation, she wrote her first play, coming full circle back to the theatre, but this time as a writer, inspired by the feminist idea circulating at the time that women might have other stories to tell and other ways of telling them, and she completed a doctorate in Theatre at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York. Her dissertation, “Acting Hysteria: An Analysis of the Actress and her Part,” was an attempt to understand why her own short-lived experience acting the woman’s part on stage felt pathological.
Her plays, which feature large roles for women, explore what it means to be human. She believes that ideas are a form of passion and enjoys making people laugh. Where there is darkness there is also some light and vice versa.
The plays, including Monte Carlo, The House of Lily, The Glamour House, American Tet, An Accident, and Lady Lay have been produced across the United States at theatres including Denver Center Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Magic Theatre, and 7 Stages and also in Germany and Canada. American Tet appears in “Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays” from Northwestern University Press. The End of Civilization as we Know It appears in the anthology, “Here Come the Brides!” from Seal Press. Individual plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing and Dramatists Play Service and published in German by Per Lauke Verlag, Hamburg.
She also writes personal essays, on theatre aesthetics, economics, and ethics, including exclusive and harmful theatre practices, and on other subjects which gravitate towards the dark side of humanity, like mass shootings and nuclear catastrophes. These essays have decidedly less humor than her plays.
She is the recipient of a Berrilla Kerr Foundation Playwright Award, a Rella Lossy Playwriting Award, and an After Dark Award. Actors have received nominations and awards for their work in her plays, most recently, the 2019 NAACP Theatre Award, for which she was also nominated for best playwright for An Accident. Her work has been part of theatre festivals and playwrighting conferences across the country and internationally and has brought her to residency programs, including the William Inge Center, Hedgebrook, and the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM, where she began her first novel.
Lydia’s debut novel, The Teachers’ Room, will be published by Bywater Books in 2022.
“The Teachers’ Room is a remarkable novel. The presentation of the setting is beautifully evocative, truly recreating an era. And the historical background—1963 in the Midwest, teachers who had to be closeted or risk everything—was such an important and pivotal time in American social history. But The Teachers’ Room is never dry history. The plot will make the reader keep turning the pages. (It certainly did me!) Most of all, The Teachers’ Room is a wonderful read—engaging, vivid in its depictions, deeply interesting in its characterizations, and very moving.” — Lillian Faderman
You can learn more about Lydia and her writing on her website.