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Richard Hellesen is the author of a number of plays for adults and young audiences. 

His most recent work, the solo show Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground, starring Tony-winner John Rubinstein, premiered off-Broadway at Theatre at St. Clement's in 2023.  As an Associate Artist at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, his plays include the full-length Necessary Sacrifices, the one-acts One Destiny (over 1500 performances, including at the White House) and The Road from Appomattox, and, as co-bookwriter, the 2015 adaptation of Frank Wildhorn's musical The Civil War, titled Freedom's Song.  With composer David De Berry he wrote the book for a widely-produced adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, seen at numerous theatres across the country including (most recently) the Denver Center Theatre and Syracuse Stage.  Other notable plays include Kingdom (premiered at the Denver Center; Stavis Playwriting Award, National Theatre Conference, and a finalist for the PEN USA-West Literary Awards); Once In Arden (premiered at South Coast Repertory; Julie Harris Playwriting Award, Beverly Hills Theatre Guild); Moonshadow (numerous regional theatre productions; Dennis McIntyre Playwriting Award, Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays); and an adaptation of Frank Norris’ The Octopus (semi-finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference).  His two-dozen produced short plays include five finalists for the Actors Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award and National Award for Short Playwriting: Four One-Hundredths, Layin’ Off the Lizard-Boy, Teardown, A Speedy And Public Trial, and Chopin's Piano, all produced at City Theatre in Miami (among others).  His one-act Dos Corazones received a Los Angeles Ovation Award writing nomination, and appears in an edition of “Best Ten-Minute Plays” by Smith & Kraus.  Two additional full-length plays, Authenticity and Providence Spring, are currently in progress.

Richard Hellesen in theatre

Read an interview, by Adam Szymkowicz

Mr. Hellesen’s plays for young audiences include a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (published by Samuel French), and adaptations of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Esther Forbes’ novel Johnny Tremain (both premiered at B Street Theatre, Sacramento).  With Grammy-winning composer Michael Silversher he has written a musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory), as well as eleven Educational Touring musicals for SCR, three of which--Face 2 Face, My Mom’s Dad, and Birds of A Feather--were subsequently produced at the Sundance Children’s Theatre in Utah.  Along with composer/lyricist Joy Sikorski, their adaptation of Lois Lowry’s young adult novel Gathering Blue was a finalist at the National Music Theatre Conference, and premiered at the Gretna Theatre, Pennsylvania, in 2017.

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A member of the Dramatists Guild, Mr. Hellesen has twice been playwright-in-residence at the William Inge Center for the Arts in Independence, Kansas.  He has also worked in the literary departments of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and B Street Theatre, and is frequently a reader for festivals and contests across the country.  Additionally, he assists with One-on-One Dramaturgy for the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, and works annually as a dramaturg in the B Street Theatre New Comedies Festival in Sacramento.

Along with the theatres mentioned, his plays have been produced at such venues as the Los Angeles Repertory Company, Stage West in Ft. Worth,  Florida Stage, North Coast Repertory, Sacramento Theatre Company, Taproot Theatre, Stamford Theatre Works, Teatro Promoteo, Imagination Stage, People's Light and Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, ACT in Seattle, The Shakespeare Company in Alberta, Canada, and (in translation) Teatr Nowy in Lodz, Poland

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