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plays by Katy Hickman

Katy Hickman: Full-Length Plays

BRIGHT BOY The Passion of Robert McNamara

In this heightened-reality comedy set in 1995, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara collapses at a women’s college while attending a memorial service for Dean Rusk. Forced to put the publicity tour for his book on hold, the 79 year-old begins to question the meaning of it all, as three curious co-eds dig silently in the dirt, and his ardor for the reluctant college president heats up.

Character Breakdown: 4M, 5F

Set/Technical: Needs to be versatile and have a sense of size. Must suggest massive, muddy digging site and Mt. Whitney. Lends itself to special lighting and sound design, as well as abstract set design.
Running Time: Two hours

Production History:

World Premiere, Electric Lodge, Venice 2006, Ensemble Studio Theatre Los Angeles


GO! RECOMMENDED - LA Weekly "...takes us into the idiosyncratically brilliant but controversial mind of Robert McNamara (Garrett M. Brown)"

L.A. Weekly, Mayank Keshaviah
>Full Review

LOS ANGELES TIMES "Hickman's play mines still-relevant questions about genius, hubris and social responsibility ... James Eckhouse's stylish staging plays up the more whimsical elements ... in Brown's acerbic yet thoughtful portrayal, [McNamara] comes to question the truth of accusations leveled at him, and the meaning of his life"

Los Angeles Times, Philip Brandes

CRITIC'S PICK - Backstage West "Hickman artfully melds fact and whimsy in a way that is simultaneously satiric, intellectually adroit, and moving ... the writing is strikingly funny, and director James Eckhouse's production is so tight he's able to whip up laughs from situations that are as rich in pathos as they are humor. Performances are top-notch, anchored by Brown's compelling, scenery-chewing turn ... the scenes in which Armstrong's hilariously dysfunctional Vietnam vet hopes for some kind of closure in regards to the war, only to be foiled by McNamara's unabashed lack of guilt, are droll and powerful - a perfect comic turn. Also fine in smaller roles are Walsh's confused campus president and Graham Sibley as McNamara's tightly wound flunky."

Backstage West, Paul Birchall
>Full Review

DAILY BREEZE "Unlike the glut of current heavy-handed antiwar plays, and the one-dimensional satires of President George W. Bush, Hickman doesn't resort to easy answers. Instead, by creating a bizarre fictional world, and tossing McNamara into the eye of that storm, she allows issues to arise without offering solutions. It's a complicated script, which director James Eckhouse and his versatile cast turn into an intriguing two hours ... Brown's impressive performance delivers strong comic moments and quietly tender scenes. Eckhouse's direction allows for the script's comedy to shine by keeping the performances reserved and the pacing fast. Laura Fine's set design, which includes many metal file cabinets and desks covered in vines and grass, echoes the jungles of Vietnam, and how the war that ended 30 years ago still impacts and informs today's geopolitics. McNamara has spent his later years reviewing the country's mistakes. Hickman, through this gentle comedy, argues that if we don't listen, we are doomed to repeat them."

The Daily Breeze, Jeff Favre

REVIEW PLAYS - Never mind the movie "Fog of War", and forget the books that McNamara wrote. If you want the real scoop, this is the place to go! Well, maybe not the real, Real scoop, but enough of it to provide a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating evening of theatre done in the way theatre should be done.

Review Plays
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FLAVORPILL Finding similarities between Iraq and Vietnam makes a nice pastime for critics of the current administration, but this allegorical comedic play pushes beyond the easy lure of political outrage. Using Robert McNamara, President Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, as a character, the show explores the choppy waters of paradox in the human heart. - SND, Shana Nys Dambrot
>Full Review

DAILY VARIETY Katy Hickman's new play, "Bright Boy: The Passion of Robert McNamara," tries to capture the man in all his complexities and contradictions. A world premiere production by Ensemble Studio Theater-L.A. works on the level of agitprop polemic; in its manic energy and declamatory Brechtian style, it's reminiscent of an Actors' Gang "whack 'em over the head" staging. While it's rough-edged and riddled with odd moments... "Bright Boy" succeeds in conveying McNamara's technocratic zeal and grandly misconceived ideologies. In Hickman's hands, he personifies the whole schizophrenic decade

Daily Variety, Paul Hodgins
>Full Review


Reading, Stages Theatre, 2001

Reading, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 2004


Selection, Ensemble Studio Theatre's First Look,/Full Lengths

Finalist, ShenanArts Festival

Finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Finalist, Reverie Productions New Play Festival


Katy Hickman: One-Act Plays


It's the typical high school perfect storm. Book reports are due, Leti's BFF has a new flame, missing music and wiglet are making Friday's concert iffy, there's the constant vigilante responsibilities against homophobia, and btw, what's mom nodded out on this time?

Sometimes you flip and you don't even know it. Maybe a prince will come for you. Maybe a fairy disguised as a crone helps you out. Maybe the crone is your drug-addled mother.

Set/Technical: Open playing area suggests classroom, music room, library, Leti's apartment.
Running Time: 35 minutes


Cypress College - reading, July 10, 2008


Katy Hickman: Ten-Minute Plays


or, The Angela Carter Beauty Parlor

What will a woman give to become "more" her? Smoke and missing mirrors conjure what's inside to come out in this appointment with an unusual stylist. Part of a witch play series.

Character Breakdown: 2F

Set/Technical: Stylist chair and cart preferred but not necessary. Strange make-up/mask and wig work required.
Running Time: Ten minutes



A woman tries to enroll her badger in a public school. Principal can be male or female. (Or puppet.) This play is actually only one page long.

Character Breakdown: 1M, 1F

Running Time: 1-3 minutes

Production History:

Abydos Theatre Company, San Francisco



A bright, 17 year-old video game junkie, Aaron, ticks off a list of the vulnerabilities of Homeland Security, causing his gaming buddy, Emil, to grow increasingly uneasy. Will the buddy snitch? Will it matter if he does? Do the ruminations of a young, accidental philospher amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world?

Character Breakdown: 2M

Set/Technical: One set to connote a basement. A couch is helpful.


24th Street Theatre, staged reading. as part of Chatter, June 10-12, 2005



What's wrong with the way Sandy does things? Why are her garden plot neighbors constantly trying to tell her what's important? Why can't they just shut up? One of them's son has just shown up. Maybe he's going to try to talk to her, maybe he's going to kill her. Either way it's going to be annoying.


"Katy Hickman’s “Nomenclature” plants the entire world in a three-tub garden."

LA Weekly, Steven Leigh Morris
>Full Review


Katy Hickman: Plays for Young Audiences


In the future. Tammy Jefferson, President of the Universe takes along her little sister Mo on a flight to replant trees on the desolate earth. Superstitious and jealous of her science-believing, take-charge sister, Mo complains and appeals to Tammy to take measures to increase her luck. The girls come to appreciate the different ways they are dealing with their mother's death, and rejoice when they find life on earth: a black cat which they name 'Lucky.'

Character Breakdown: 2F

Running Time: Ten minutes

Production History:

Virginia Avenue Project 2005


Katy Hickman: Plays for Solo Performer


Take a trip with a job seeker, a high school student, and a sixth grade science teacher all trying their best to do the right thing.

Character Breakdown: 1F

Running Time: One hour, ten minutes


Dramalogue Award - Best Solo Performance

Dramalogue Award - Writing

Bay Area Critic's Circle Award - Writing

Production History:

Solo Mio Festival - San Francisco

Encore Theatre Company - San Francisco

Magic Theatre Company - San Francisco

Theater Theatre - Los Angeles

HBO Workspace - Los Angeles


"...uneasy and intriguing...Hickman confounds expectations."

Los Angeles Reader - Critic's Choice

"...otherworldly..unexpected...a charming introduction to a writer with a genuinely original eye."

San Francisco Examiner

"...fresh...assured....just hums with irony."

San Jose Mercury News

"Fast, funny, intelligent and wise."

SF Weekly, Mari Coates

"Energetic, buoyant....skillfully rendered."

SF Chronicle

"A serene intelligence...intensely human and hilariously funny."

Madeleine Shaner


Zspace Studio - Open Studios

Magic Theater - Mame Hunt, Dramaturg