Menu
Mr. Burns, a post-electric play image 1

Steve Cosson

Steve Cosson is a writer and director. Directing highlights include Spring Awakening (Olney  Theatre), Anne Washburn’s A Devil at Noon (Humana Festival, O’Neill), Bus Stop (Kansas City Rep), U.S. premiere of Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life (Soho Rep). He is the founding Artistic Director of the Civilians. The company creates original works of investigative theater that have been performed Off-Broadway and in over 40 cities nationally and internationally. Highlights of work with the Civilians include Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns (Woolly Mammoth Theatre, The Washington Post’s #1 play for 2012), Bess Wohl/Michael Friedman’s Pretty Filthy, Paris Commune (2012 BAM Next Wave), The Great Immensity, The Next Forever created for the 2012 TED Conference, In The Footprint (Top 10 of 2010 in NY Times, Time Out, New Yorker), This Beautiful City,(I Am) Nobody’s Lunch and Gone Missing (NY Times Top 10 of 2007). These works and others have been produced at The Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Vineyard Theatre, Barrow Street, Woolly Mammoth, Kansas City Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Repertory Theater, Center Theater Group, HBO’s Comedy Festival, MoMA, The Gate Theatre and Soho Theatre in London and many others. His plays are published by Oberon Books, Dramatists Play Service and an anthology from Playscripts. As of June 2013.

Reviews

More Reviews

Interview

Tim Sanford and Anne Washburn on Mr. Burns

Tim Sanford: So you grew up in Berkeley, right? What did your parents do? Anne Washburn: My dad’s a painter and my mother worked for a non-profit housing agency. What was your first exposure to theater? My first memories of theater were in kindergarten, watching the older grades—second and third graders—do actual plays and thinking that that was extraordinarily impressive. First of all they were very sophisticated people, these second and third graders. But also the event of the thing was super fun. So, I was one of those kids who loved it pretty instantly.

Podcast

Colleen Werthmann

MR. BURNS actor Colleen Werthmann discusses playing a Simpson, the process of creating the show, and moonlighting as a comedy writer. Produced by 2013/14 Marketing Resident Nicole Dancel.

Interview

On Cartoons, Culture, and the End of the World

Mr. Burns author Anne Washburn trade thoughts on the set of her play with John McWhorter, an expert on the evolution of language and culture and the author of Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language; Matt Zoller Seitz, TV critic for New York magazine; and Jon Vitti, one of the most prolific Simpsons writers in the show's 24-season history.

Interview

Mr. Burns Symposium

In the first of our curated panels, Mr. Burns author Anne Washburn trades thoughts on the set of her play with John McWhorter, an expert on the evolution of language and culture and the author of Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language; Matt Zoller Seitz, TV critic for New York magazine; and Jon Vitti, one of the most prolific Simpsons writers in the show's 24-season history.

Interview

Anne Washburn

Anne Washburn discusses how she chose "The Simpsons" as the subject of Mr. Burns and how it all began in an empty, underground bank vault.

Podcast

Michael Friedman

MR. BURNS' Obie Award-winning composer Michael Friedman discusses his role in the play's development and the fascinating intersection of "The Simpsons" theme with Bernard Herrmann.

Podcast

Anne Washburn

MR. BURNS playwright Anne Washburn on the origin of the play, its unique development process, and how "The Simpsons" came to represent the high culture of the future.

Playwrights' Perspectives

Anne Washburn on Mr. Burns

This play comes from an idea which had been knocking around in my head for years: I wanted to take a pop culture narrative and see what it meant, and how it changed, after the fall of Civilization. Really just because I was curious; I write plays because that part of my brain is more entertaining to me than this part of my brain. I knew I wanted to start with an act of recollection, with a group of survivors trying to piece together a TV episode. And to do that, I wanted to work with a group of actors; remembering is complicated; I could make remembering up, but it would never be as rich and complex as the real thing.

Essay

Tim Sanford on Mr. Burns

Culture mongers relentlessly peddle dystopic futurist scenarios in TV and movies. Despite all evidence we might be sated with zombie/vampire/invading alien/oncoming asteroid/catastrophic climate change/magnetic pole inversion/nuclear meltdown disaster epics, the shows keep coming. Most of these would fall decidedly into the bottom left “Lowbrow/Despicable” quadrant of New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix (except maybe The Walking Dead, which nudges just slightly into the Lowbrow/Brilliant quadrant). Anne Washburn’s ridiculously inspired Mr. Burns shoots straight into my personal “Highbrow/Brilliant” by riffing on one entirely plausible disaster scenario, the disintegration of our electric grid, and turning it inside out.

Essay

Backstory: The End of the World As We D'Oh It

The end times have been with us for a long time. Nearly every human culture has postulated some epic finale for the universe. But as our power to shape the world (for better or worse) has grown, so has the genre of doom. The Industrial Revolution brought a spike in apocalyptic fiction (Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, 1826; H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, 1895; and War of the Worlds, 1898), but the atom bomb kicked things into high gear, exponentially multiplying the ways we’ve been able to conceive of our end. In the last seventy years, our stories have wiped civilization from the planet’s surface by way of nuclear war, pandemic, extraterrestrial attack, impact event, cybernetic revolt, technological singularity, dysgenics, runaway climate change, resource depletion, ecological collapse, assorted geological and astronomical catastrophes, and that old standby: divine judgment. But what of after?

Essay

The American Voice: A Math Somewhere

Q: Tell me a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer. A: I have a lot of vivid earthquake memories... —from an interview with Anne Washburn In the classic parlor game Balderdash, players compose fake definitions for a real word—the more obscure, the better—and then mix these imagined definitions with the actual definition. “The Dasher” reads them all aloud, and everyone casts votes on what they think is the truth. If you guess correctly, you score. But you also score when another player votes for the lie you invented.