Steven Dietz was born in Denver, Colorado, on June 23, 1958. His father, John, a conductor on Burlington Northern, was a railroad man for forty-three years; his mother, Irene, was a homemaker. Growing up, Dietz had very little theater in his upbringing—he occupied himself playing sports, mainly baseball and tennis. He fell in with a group of theater friends in high school, where he saw his first play. At the University of Northern Colorado, he majored in theater, graduating with a B.A. in 1980.
Dietz then moved to Minneapolis, where he lived and worked for eleven years. This was a formative and productive period in his artistic development. With the Playwrights’ Center as his artistic home, he worked as playwright and director at many of the local theaters. He cofounded Quicksilver Stage (1983-1986), was artistic director of Midwest PlayLabs (1987-1989), and even directed an opera, Saint Erik’s Crown, in St. Peter, Minnesota (1989). During this period, Dietz directed world premier productions of early plays by (then) up-and-coming writers, such as John Olive’s The Voice of the Prairie, Kevin Kling’s 21-A and Lloyd’s Prayer, and Jon Klein’s T Bone N Weasel.
Dietz has been resident director of Sundance Institute, Utah (1990), and an associate artist at A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle (1990-1991). He moved to Seattle in 1991 and in 1996 married playwright Allison Gregory, with whom he had a daughter, Ruby Clementine. He constantly works at his craft, keeping a notebook handy to jot down snippets of conversations, signs in storefronts, and anything else that captures his attention.
Dietz has served as artist-in-residence or faculty member at Arizona State University (1993), Whitman College (1997), Mercer University (2000), and Seattle University (2002). In 2002, he received two commissions: from A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle) to do a new play called Fiction and from Purple Rose Theatre (Michigan) to do The Ride Inside. He has also received play commissions from Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and the Seattle Children’s Theatre.