The Annie Baker dead poets society

Annie Baker 2
Playwright Annie Baker is finally making a splash in the Bay Area. This year, three of her plays will have played in Berkeley, San Francisco and Marin. What took so darn long?

So far, playwright Annie Baker is two for two in the Bay Area. It took a while for the country’s hottest young playwright to make her mark locally, but she has done it now. Twice. And a third is yet to come later in the summer.

Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre Company was the first to produce Baker locally with Body Awareness (read my review here). Then SF Playhouse did The Aliens (running through May 5, read my review here). The Baker trilogy concludes (at least for now) in August when Marin Theatre Company and Encore Theatre Company partner on Circle Mirror Transformation.

There’s always a danger when a new playwright sizzles into popular consciousness that there will be a backlash, that the writer will be praised one day then smashed for being overrated the next. I don’t think that will happen with Baker, at least not here. Her writing is too interesting, too compassionate. So far the plays have just gotten better.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Baker via email for a San Francisco Chronicle story. She was even charming in cyberspace. Read the interview here.

Here’s my favorite part of our exchange:

Q: After Emily Dickinson, are you now the second-most famous writer to come from Amherst, Mass.?
Ha ha ha. Definitely not. There’s Robert Frost, Chinua Achebe, Helen Hunt Jackson, Noah Webster, etc. But I love Emily Dickinson. I used to hang out at her grave when I was a kid and push pennies in the dirt so she’d have some spending money in heaven.

[bonus video]
Here’s a look at SF Playhouse’s production of The Aliens by Annie Baker.


The Aliens continues through May 5 at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco. Tickets are $20-$70. Call 415-677-9596 or visit

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