Mary Zimmerman

Plays written by Mary Zimmerman



Arabian Nights – (10M 6W; can be varied) The power of storytelling is a central theme, as Scheherazade tells her husband the king spectacular tales of sex, greed and revenge to prevent him from executing her.

Argonautika – (9M 5W; can be varied) Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautika recounts the adventures of Jason and his crew aboard the Argo on a perilous mission to cross the forbidden ocean in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Journey to the West – (9M 5W, 3 musicians; can be varied) The story is about the seventh-century pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Hsuan-Tsang, honorifically named Tripitaka, to India. By the time the story was written down in 1592, the tale had grown somewhat: the journey became one of 108,000 miles over a thousand mountains and ten thousand rivers. And Tripitaka’s search for Buddhist scripture gained layers of allegory: the story has become one of the search for inner truth.

M. Proust – (1W) For a decade at the dawn of the 20th century, Celeste Albaret– an unlettered girl born to a peasant family – lived a dream. She was literary legend Marcel Proust’s housekeeper, confidante and surrogate mother. Proust himself told her, “You know everything about me.” Now, Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman brings Celeste Albaret’s story to life in a one-woman tour-de-force.

Metamorphoses – (5M 5W; can be varied) This Tony Award winning play is a magical journey into Ovid’s world of transformation and enchantment. In breathtaking images, the characters experience love and loss, joy and pain, freeze and transform, as they discover the inevitable consequences of their own actions.

Mirror of the Invisible World – (1M 7W) Adapted from a twelfth-century Persian epic, Mirror of the Invisible World tells the story of a young King who, after falling in love with seven princesses—each from a different land—builds seven pavilions to house his beautiful brides. Each night, a different princess weaves for him another wondrous tale of love, loss and adventure.

The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci – (4M 4W; can be varied) In The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Mary Zimmerman has created a unique production out of material that would not normally seem to be fertile soil for the theatre. The piece is comprised entirely of language from private notebooks that Leonardo kept from 1475 until his death in 1519.

The Odyssey – (13M 8W; can be varied) Mary Zimmerman brings her amazing and unique talents to Homer’s The Odyssey, an epic tale that covers a journey home spanning 10 years, compete with monsters, gods, and human foibles.

The Secrets in the Wings – (5M 4W) “Once upon a time” is the password to a spellbinding netherworld of rarely told fairy tales – including Three Blind Queens and The Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh – framed by a unique twist on the beloved classic Beauty and the Beast.

Silk – (7M 4W) The year is 1861. Herve Joncour buys and sells silkworms for a living. His small French town depends on him for its livelihood. Each year, Joncour travels to exotic locations around the world to acquire the silkworms. But one year, an epidemic strikes silkworms all over the world. Or nearly the whole world. There’s still Japan. And that is where Joncour journeys, to meet a wealthy village lord and his beautiful young mistress. There he will find what he’s looking for, and so much more.

Treasure Island – (11M, 1W, 4 musicians) Adventure beckons when a mysterious blind man delivers a dreaded Black Spot to an aging sea captain, plunging an innkeeper’s son into a desperate race for buried treasure armed with only his wits against a dastardly crew of cutthroat pirates. Set sail with young Jim Hawkins, the larger-than-life Long John Silver and a crew of swashbuckling rogues, as TREASURE ISLAND explodes like a cannon ball onto the stage regaling thrill-seekers of all ages with a story both epic and intimate, hilarious and harrowing.

White Snake – (5M 6W, 3 musicians) In a beloved Chinese legend, a snake spirit disguised as a beautiful woman falls in love with a young scholar. White Snake keeps her true identity secret from him, but a disapproving monk persists in unmasking her. With the help of Green Snake, White Snake summons all her magic powers to defeat the spirits and monsters threatening her life and her great love.


Mary Zimmerman is the 1998 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the 2002 Tony Award for best director, and 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards, including ones for “Best Production” and “Best Direction.” She is a member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company of Chicago, an Artistic Associate of the Goodman and Seattle Repertory theatres, and a Professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Works which she has adapted and directed include Argonautika (Lookingglass, Berkeley Rep, Shakespeare Theatre Co, McCarter Theatre), Mirror of the Invisible World (Goodman), The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (Goodman, BAM, Seattle Rep, Second Stage), The Odyssey (Lookingglass, Goodman, McCarter, Seattle Rep), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass, MTC, BAM, Berkeley Rep, Kansas City Rep), Journey To The West (Goodman, Huntington, Berkeley Rep), Metamorphoses (Lookingglass, Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Mark Taper Forum, Second Stage), Secret in the Wings (Lookingglass, Berkeley Rep, McCarter, Seattle Rep), S/M (Lookingglass), Eleven Rooms of Proust (Lookingglass, About Face) and a new opera with Philip Glass called Galileo Galilei (Goodman, the Barbicon in London, and B.A.M.) She made her Metropolitan Opera directorial debut with Lucia di Lammermoor in the fall of 2007 and has subsequently directed La Sonnambula for the MET.

* Please note that some titles are handled by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Broadway Play Publishing, and  Please ask if you don’t see a particular play.