Naomi Iizuka

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Biography

(Drama for Students)

Naomi Iizuka, a contemporary Japanese American playwright, is one of the freshest voices in modern theater. A prolific writer, Iizuka has written a host of controversial plays in her young career that have won her acclaim and recognition.

Given that Iizuka is such a new voice, very little has been written about her life. Most everything that has been printed about Iizuka has focused on her plays and their performances. However, it is known that she was born in 1965 in Japan to an American mother of Spanish descent and a Japanese banker father. She lived in Holland as a child, and later in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In Maryland, Iizuka attended the National Cathedral School, a private Catholic institution catering to the children of diplomats.

Iizuka grew up with an incredible love of literature. However, she did not discover theater until she began studying classics and literature at Yale University. After graduating from Yale, Iizuka spent a year at Yale Law School. Iizuka worked for several years and then enrolled in the master’s of fine arts program in playwriting at the University of California-San Diego, where she studied closely with playwright Adele Edling Shank. Iizuka finished her master’s of fine arts in 1992.

In the ten years following the completion of her master’s of fine arts, Iizuka has written many plays, including 36 Views, Polaroid Stories, Language of the Angels, and Skin. She is a member of the New Dramatists. She is also a recipient of the Whiting Award, the Gerbode Foundation Fellowship, the NEA/TCG Theatre Artist Residency Program for Playwrights, the McKnight Fellowship, the PEN Center USA West Award for Drama, Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship, and the Jerome Playwriting Fellowship. She and her works have been mentioned several times on National Public Radio, and she has taught masters classes at the Kennedy Center. Needless to say, Iizuka is both a prolific and widely celebrated American playwright.