Playwright: From Page to Stage

Playwright: From Page to Stage

  • BY Robert Levi | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered December 16, 2013

About the Film

Playwright: From Page to Stage is a cinema vérité documentary that takes an intimate look at the development of two new plays, showing how creative teams are assembled and collaborate, detailing everything from the intense rehearsal process to achieving one of theater's ultimate goals: the arrival on a Broadway stage in New York City. MORE

The film follows two young playwrights, Rajiv Joseph and Tarell McCraney, as they burst onto the scene, bringing real-world perspective to create theater that is fresh and new. Their success ignites tremendous interest in their work, and we follow as one of the plays, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, reaches Broadway, with Robin Williams in the lead role of The Tiger.

Along the way, we learn about both playwrights through their individual back stories. Before deciding to write plays, Rajiv Joseph, an Indian American from Cleveland, traveled to Africa after college for a three-year stint in the Peace Corps. Raised in Miami’s inner city, Tarell McCraney also has an unlikely background for a career in theater: as we start our journey, he’s under 30, grew up below the poverty line, and is black and gay.

Through extraordinary backstage access, Playwright shows how these works, depicting compelling diversity and gender themes, have the power to influence and impact both mainstream and underserved audiences of all ages.

The Filmmaker

Robert Levi

Robert Levi is an independent writer, director, producer, and cinematographer. In 2008, Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life became the first show in broadcast history to receive an Emmy Award for Best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and the Writers Guild Award for Best Documentary Screenplay. In addition, Levi has received three Best Script nominations from the Writers Guild for other work. His film, Duke Ellington: Reminiscing in Tempo, premiered on PBS’s American Experience, received an Emmy, and later played on A&E’s Biography, BBC’s Omnibus, and La Sept/Arte. Levi wrote, produced, and directed Mott Street, a short film featuring Vincent Pastore, and his work has screened at festivals in Berlin, London, Melbourne, and Munich, as well as the American Film Institute Film Festival. As a Director of Photography, Robert Levi has worked with many directors and producers of note, including Norman Jewison, Sidney Pollack, Nick Broomfield, John Avildsen, and Peter Jennings. The first film he produced, the prison documentary Scared Straight, won a Best Feature Documentary Oscar. LESS

Film Credits

A Film by Robert Levi

Produced by
Joshua Blum
Rebecca Halbower

Written, Directed, and Produced by
Robert S. Levi

Paul Kurta
Jack Lechner

Associate Producer
George Seminara

Original Music by
Kathryn Bostic

For Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo

Glenn Davis
Brad Fleischer
Arian Moayed
Kevin Tighe
Hrach Titizian
Sheila Vand
Robin Williams
Necar Zadegan

Production Stage Managers
Beverly Jenkins
Vanessa J. Noon

Stage Managers
Alex Lyu Volkhausen
Erica R. Christensen

For The Brother Sister Plays

Barnaby Carpenter
Samuel Ray Gates
Kimberly Hébert Gregory
Brian Tyree Henry
Marc Damon Johnson
Nikiya Mathis
Alano Miller
Kianné Muschett
Heather Alicia Simms

Production Stage Manager
Cheryl Mintz

Stage Manager
Alison Cote

Director of Photography
Robert Levi

Additional Director of Photography
David Sperling

Adam Zucker

Associate Editors
Robert Johnson
Robert Levi

Additional Editor
Jeff Marcello

Additional Music
Michael Wolff

Production Coordinator
Alex Cirillo

Location Managers
Marc Reina
Nancy Moss Ephron

Production Accountant
Dorian Everett

Production Consultants
Amy Hass
Neal Dodson

Additional Cinematography
Harlan Bosmajian
George Seminara

Camera Operators
John Foster
Jeff Hodges
Robert Johnson
Scott Maguire
William Megalos
David Sperling
James Tufaro

Sound Recordists
Micah Bloomberg
Chat Gunter
Michael “Kricky” Krikorian
David Pruger
Jeff Pullman
William Sarokin
Giovanni Di Simone

Title Design and Graphics
Randy Balsmeyer

Online Editor and Colorist
Sandy Patch

Post Production Services
Final Frame
Sound Lounge

Re-recording Mixer
Dan Timmons

Richard Rodgers Stage Crew
McBrien Dunbar
Cletus Karamon
Justin Rathbun
Andrew Sullivan

Legal Services Provided by
David Schmerler, Esq.
Steven Schecter, Esq.

Publicity by
Sam Rudy Media Services

Archival Footage and Graphics
American Conservatory Theater
Corbis Motion
Feast Creative
Intro Graphics
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The Young Vic

Majestic Theater Opening Courtesy of
Emerson College
Bonnie Beggeson


"Spectrum of the Sky"
Laird, Travino (Break of Reality)
New Jerusalem Music

“El Capitalismo Foraneo”
Cohen Solal, Makaroff, Muller
Kobalt Songs Music Publishing

"Day Five"
Explosions in the Sky
Hrasky, James, Rayani, Smith
Explosions in the Sky Music

Michael Wolff
Siv a Siv Music; Indianola Music

"Throw Ya Gunz"
Jones, Parker, Scruggs Jr. Taylor

EMI April Music; Roynet Music

“Try a Little Tenderness”
Campbell, Connelly, Woods
EMI Robbins Catalogue

"My Only Swerving"
Fogarty & Dunn (El Ten Eleven)
Modern Works Music Publishing
Grow Your Own Music

Special Thanks
Candy Adams
Adrienne Arscht Center
Keonme Alvin
Kathy Atkinson
Patrice Bailey
Berkeley Repertory Theater
Charles J. Biederman
The Broadway League
The Casa Restaurant
Jane Cox
Dan Dashman
Bart Daudelin
Vanessa Dionne
The Dramatists Guild
Polly Draper
The Foundry Theatre
Jamie Gahlon
Anna Gerb
Tanner Gibson
Kathy Halbower
Christopher Hibma
Philip Himberg
Darren Jinks
David Johnson
Nick Kaledin
Chris Kanarick
Ann Kelleher
Neel Keller
Sarah Kernochan
David J. Lander
Lilian Levi
Donna Levy
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Jonathan Lisecki
Vijay Mathew
Kevin McCollum
Kevin McGarty
Derek McLane
Mauro Melleno
The Mellon Foundation
Bruce Miller
Carl Mulert
Cricket S. Myers
The Nederlander Organization
New World School of the Arts
Bill O'Brien
Diane Paulus
Karen Perry
David Richards
Diane Rodriguez
Daryl Roth
The Rude Mechanicals
Sam Rudy
Randy Sayer
James Schuette
Jonathan Schwartz
Jeffrey Seller
Damian Sinclair
Kelly Smith
Lenny Smith
Molly Smith
David Steinberg
James Steinberg
Nevin Steinberg
Nausica Stergiou
Katie Stern
Tari Stratton
Jan Svendsen
Pier Carlo Talenti
Florence Williams
James Wright
YoungArts Foundation
Warren Zavullo
David Zinn

Production assistance provided by
Arena Stage
Center Theatre Group
McCarter Theatre Center

Executive Producers
Dalton Delan
David S. Thompson

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Funding Provided by
Washington Drama Society
New York State Council on the Arts

Playwright: From Page to Stage is a co-production of Robert Levi Films, Inc.,
Washington Square Films, Inc., and the Independent Television Service
(ITVS), produced in association with WETA and PBS, with funding provided by the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Robert Levi Films, Inc,

which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2013 Robert Levi Films, Inc. All rights reserved.

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a playwright? What do you look for in a stage play, as an audience member?


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Have you ever dreamed of becoming a playwright? What do you look for in a stage play, as an audience member?