In the overwhelming quiet of the woods, six runaways from city life embark on a silent retreat. As these strangers confront internal demons both profound and absurd, their vows of silence collide with the achingly human need to connect. Filled with awkward and insightful humor, this unique and compassionate new play asks how we address life’s biggest questions when words fail us.

This uncanny, gently funny and touching play, set in the 1980’s, follows four young siblings as their childhood is upended by the mysterious problems of the adults in their lives and tracks how moments from our childhood resonate with us forever.

Inspired by a tradition of classic musicals about show business, Pretty Filthy is the untold showbiz musical, based on interviews with adult entertainers. Armed with their notepads and recorders, Ms. Wohl and The Civilians crossed the mountain range that divides Hollywood from the "other Hollywood"—the San Fernando Valley, world capital of porn. The artists conducted interviews and visited sets to get an insider's glimpse into a world that is far more than the sum of its (very) visible parts. Pretty Filthy is ultimately a story about trying to make a life and a living in an ever-changing world—a task that's all the more complicated when your work is so intimately tied to customer "satisfaction." 

Book by Bess Wohl, Music/lyrics by Michael Friedman. Directed by Steve Cosson.  Produced by The Civilians.

Three ounces of meat. Two ounces of cheese. Four ounces of lettuce. Seventeen-year-old Sheri and her co-workers at a new submarine sandwich franchise have honed their skills making everything from the Turkey Torpedo to the Big Kahuna Tuna exactly as specified in the corporate manual. But when the franchise owner mysteriously disappears, they are forced to improvise, and Sheri takes charge of the ragtag band of “sandwich artists.” See just how far they’ll go to keep their shop afloat in this tale of the struggle for optimism in tough times, the power of sandwiches, and the glorious, messy American Dream.

Developed at the Cape Cod Theatre Project.  World Premiere at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. New York premiere at Second Stage Uptown.

Late night in Barcelona. A drunk American woman goes home with a tall, dark stranger—an older Spanish man. What begins as a carefree one-night stand becomes an invitation to danger, as the personal and political intertwine.  Over the course of a single night– by turns funny, sexy and surprising– BARCELONA explores the gap between the fantasy of who we pretend to be and the truth of who we are.

A mock talk back with five “former cast members of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS,” this Waiting For Guffman style parody reveals the secrets behind the making of the legendary musical, and the dark side of the Great White Way.

Winner Best Overall Production New York International Fringe Festival


Sara has been working on her novel for five years, while tutoring the children of affluent families in order to improve their chances of getting into elite colleges. Pammie desperately wants her son, Jordy, to get into Harvard, and has hired Sara to make sure it happens.  Jordy’s not so sure he belongs at Harvard…but then he’s not sure about a lot of things. IN is both a nuanced portrait of three people trying to find their place in the world, and a devastating, sharply funny critique of American systems of power and privilege.

The screenplay adaptation of IN was included on Hollywood’s Black List of best scripts. 


Kay loves her older sister Emma.  Or is it Christina?  Christine?  Matilda?  After spending eight years institutionalized and medicated, Emma has changed more than just her name.  Determined to get back the brilliant sister she remembers, Kay rents a cabin in the woods and she and her boyfriend Billy hide the sharp objects, from butcher knife to cheese grater.  Perhaps quality time with loved ones, some home-cooked meals and games of Scrabble will succeed in restoring Emma to health where her psychiatrists have failed. 

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© Bess Wohl 2017