Playwright / Screenwriter

Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement of playwright, Gabriel Jason Dean



I spring from ministers, murderers, rebels, addicts, closeted queens, soldiers, singers and blue-collar mill workers.  I was raised on soil three generations of my family farmed in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia.  Most of my childhood was spent either outdoors or in our trailer home propped on cinder blocks. My folks were teenagers when I bounced into their lives. We lived paycheck to paycheck, never more than a few weeks away from breaking the bank. We were the bottom of someone else’s bottom line. Because of that, I almost always write about people who stretch: stretching beyond their circumstances, stretching toward understanding, stretching to survive. I write to stretch toward the beating heart of understanding--plays that chronicle those moments when we are moved beyond judgement and fear to compassion. But don’t get me wrong. My plays don’t play nice. In my world, compassion is hard-won, ever-changing and thoroughly tested at every turn.  

I often write from the personal, transforming what I know into something theatrical. But I’m also interested in writing to discover things beyond what I know. Whether comic, tragic, for children or adults, set in Appalachia or Afghanistan, my work is unified in its examination of privilege, class and race; the questioning of top-down economic structures; and a commitment to portray the fluidity of gender and sexuality. I am a musician and my study of music deeply informs my sense of rhythm and form on the page. Though my subjects are sometimes provocative, I don’t see myself as a provocateur, but instead as an architect of questions. I want my work to be the beginning of a long conversation between the play, the collaborators and the audience. As theatre-goer and writer, I crave transformative work that gnaws at my bones for life.