University of Wisconsin-Parkside
by Annie Baker
Directed by Fabrice Conte-Williamson
Scenic Design by Justin A. Miller
Lighting Design by Kammi Kringle
Costume Design by Leslie Vaglica
Sound Design by Kevin Gray
Hair & Makeup by Lynn Bryant
Props by Bianca Gonzalez
Photo credit: Alyssa Nepper and Laura Mason
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 2023.
The feeling of displacement and our inability to meaningfully connect with others are familiar themes in modern and contemporary drama. They are also at the heart of the plays written by Annie Baker, one of our most produced and celebrated new American playwrights.
Baker rose to sudden literary fame when her play Body Awareness premiered Off-Broadway in 2008. The following year, Circle Mirror Transformation was produced by Playwrights Horizon In New York City and received the Obie Award for Best New American Play. The Aliens, another Obie-Award winner, premiered in 2010 at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, a prestigious Off-Broadway venue dedicated to fostering new works and emerging artists. In 2014, Baker received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Flick—perhaps her most famous work, which explores the relationships of three underpaid ushers as they come in to clean a movie theater between showings. Her most recent work for the stage, John, premiered in New York City in 2015 and was produced at the National Theatre of London in 2018.
The Aliens is part of Baker’s The Vermont Plays, a collection of four works set in the Green Mountain State, which also includes Body Awareness, Circle Mirror Transformation, and Nocturama.
In The Vermont Plays, Baker’s characters are ordinary people, often teetering on the socio-economic margins of society, who navigate unremarkable lives from which emerge transformational experiences. Through her distinctive writing style, best defined as contemporary Naturalism, she paints a detailed picture of these characters by crafting language and behaviors that mimic both the rhythms and colors of everyday life. This surgical precision is most apparent in the way she willfully deconstructs speech and unapologetically incorporates silences as a primary component of the theatrical experience. In doing so, Baker demands that audiences reassess their expectation of what it means to watch characters interact on stage. In a 2010 interview with American Theatre, the author described her plays as “zoomed-in portraits where you can see all the crazy pixels on people’s cheeks.” As a result, Baker’s plays feel powerfully intimate and surprisingly insightful about human nature.