Richard Hellesen

Playwright Librettist

Richard Hellesen is the author of a number of plays for adults and children.  Among the former are Kingdom (Denver Center Theatre Company; Stavis Playwriting Award, National Theatre Conference); Once In Arden (South Coast Repertory; Julie Harris Playwriting Award, Beverly Hills Theatre Guild); Moonshadow (Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays; Dennis McIntyre Playwriting Award); an adaptation of Frank Norris’ The Octopus (semi-finalist, 2011 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference); and five plays for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, where he is an Associate Artist: the full-length Necessary Sacrifices, about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; the one-acts One Destiny, The Road From Appomattox, and Investigation: Detective McDevitt, and as co-writer, the 2015 adaptation of the Frank Wildhorn musical Freedom’s Song.  With the late composer David De Berry he wrote the book for the musical A Cappella and a widely-produced musical adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Sacramento Theatre Company, Denver Center, Geva, among many). His two-dozen produced short plays include five finalists for the Actors Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award: Four One-Hundredths, Layin’ Off the Lizard-Boy, Ethnic Cleansing, Teardown, and A Speedy And Public Trial, all produced at City Theatre in Miami (among others).  His one-act Dos Corazones received a Los Angeles Ovation Award writing nomination, and appears in“Best Ten-Minute Plays 2012”, published by Smith & Kraus.  Two additional full-length plays--All She Wrote and Authenticity--are in progress.

Mr. Hellesen’s plays for young audiences include a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (published by Samuel French), and adaptations of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Esther Forbes’ novel Johnny Tremain (both premiered at B Street Theatre, Sacramento).  With Grammy-winning composer Michael Silversher he has written a musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory, with a revised version playing at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland in 2011), as well as eleven Educational Touring musicals for SCR, three of which--Face 2 Face, My Mom’s Dad, and Birds of A Feather--were subsequentlyproduced at the Sundance Children’s Theatre in Utah.  Along with composer/lyricist Joy Sikorski, their adaptation of Lois Lowry’s young adult novel Gathering Blue premiered at the Gretna Theatre, Pennsylvania, in 2017.

A member of the Dramatists Guild, Mr. Hellesen was playwright-in-residence at the William Inge Center for the Arts in Independence, Kansas in 2009 and 2012.  Additionally, he assists with one-on-one dramaturgy for the Playwrights Center in
Minneapolis, and has worked in the literary departments of several theatres, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and B Street Theatre in Sacramento, where he makes his home.