Brave People
by Allan Staples

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In the immediate moments following a positive BRCA genetic test, married couple Nicole and Ben are left to work through their emotions.




Originally from Minneapolis, Allan is a New York-based playwright whose writing has been called, “funny, sexy, intimate and heart wrenching.” Allan’s plays have been developed or produced at the Jungle Theater, Playwright’s Center, Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive, Cape May National Playwrights Symposium, the Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation and the Playwright/Director Unit at the Actor’s Studio in New York City. He’s won the American Theatre Co-op award for best one-act play and the best play award at the Short+Sweet Sydney festival. He’s also been a two-time O’Neill semifinalist and a semifinalist for the Jewish Plays Project. Allan has as MFA in Playwriting from the New School of Drama. In addition to theatrical writing, Allan has also written and performed for Minnesota Public Radio. As screenwriter, Allan is a two-time Austin Film Festival Semifinalist and a finalist for the PAGE Fellowship at Stowe Story Labs. He’s at




When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?

In college, I saw a production of Waiting for Godot at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. I was stunned by how funny it was while also being incredibly philosophical and dramatic, in its way. Leaving the theater, I grabbed a bookmark which I still have today. I wrote my first play a few months later and it was produced as part of an evening of student one-acts. It went really well – lots of laughter – and that was that.

The “why” is an interesting question. I don’t really know. I know that I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh and I’ve always been fascinated by the moments created between the performer and audience, whether in standup, storytelling or, even, radio and variety shows. For me, I think the most important thing is that connection with the audience; those moments when the production and audience feel connected, breathing together as one. It’s a magical thing, it really is. In our world right now, feeling connected to others, to strangers, is something we should all strive towards.


How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?

Shortly after my wife and I were married, we both took a genetic test. She tested as BRCA 1 positive which means, essentially, she was at a significantly higher risk to develop breast and/or ovarian cancer. What made that moment especially difficult is that it isn’t a cancer diagnosis per se, it’s the possibility of cancer at some point in the future. That existential-type situation was the core of the idea of the play; a couple wresting with what that means, or what that could mean, in the future.

While I didn’t write anything, the idea for the play kept rattling around inside my head. It was only when I was attending the Cape May Playwrights Symposium in New Jersey that I sat down to write that idea. One of our writing prompts, led by the great Halley Feiffer, was to write a comedic scene dramatically or a dramatic scene comedically. I loved that prompt and wrote the core of Brave People over those few days in New Jersey.


What are five words that describe who you are as a playwright?

Thoughtful, funny, smart, entertaining, heart-wrenching.


What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?

The playwrights of the plays I’ve listed below are all major influences. But, more broadly, I love when writers – whether TV, film or stage – are unafraid to use humor as a leavening agent in their work. Harold Pinter, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Amy Herzog, Martin McDonagh, Theresa Rebeck, Yasmina Reza, Bruce Norris, Garry Shandling, David Chase.


What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?

I spent one NFL season writing for a sports gambling website!


What are some of your favorite plays?

Old school: Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.
Newer school: How I learned to Drive by Paula Vogel, Angels in America by Tony Kushner, The Pavilion by Craig Wright.
Now: I absolutely loved Primary Trust by Eboni Booth. I was so happy the play won the Pulitzer!


Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?

I’m continuing to work on my latest play which is called Vigorish. It’s set in a sportsbook and synagogue in Las Vegas and centers around Ben, a bookmaker at the sportsbook (a sportsbook is the place where they take bets on sports, horse racing, etc). Following a tragic event at the sportsbook, Ben had decided to quit his job and move to Israel to become a rabbi. I’d say it’s a drama with comedic elements. We had a reading at the Playwright/Director Unit at the Actor’s Studio which went great and, just recently, the play was named a semifinalist with the Jewish Plays Project.

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