Production Dramaturgy  
New Play Dramaturgy  

Poor Lessing's
Theatre Almanack

Dramaturging Montreal/ATHE

It's such a relief to work with a dramaturg who doesn't look at my play as something that needs to be "fixed." In the past, interactions with dramaturgs, artistic directors, and critics have sometimes felt like this - "Hey, let's get down to the hardware store and buy the stuff we need to fix your play. Because - you know - it's broken."
  —Toni Press-Coffman,

I love my dramaturg because... she pushes me to find myself—and not just my characters—in my process; because she urges me to write what's happening off-stage so that I understand my own plot; and because, through her, I learnt about my professional ancestors, like Lessing, and have come to see myself in a long parade rather than as a lonely writer who's knocking on doors.
  —Matthew Ivan Bennett,

I love my dramaturg because it is like going to the play therapist, except the couch is my couch and I get to wear my pajamas. And we can discuss issues and arcs and intentions via phone, skype and email with the same kind of urgency as if they were real circumstances. So while I moan and wring my hands about character motivations and plot devices, she treats them with the same consideration she would (and does) any personal issue. She understands plays are family.
  —Ellen Struve, playwright

  • THE CONSUL, THE TRAMP, and AMERICA'S SWEETHEART by John Morogiello is currently at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills: "Billed as a comedy, the play is much more: a perceptive and moving depiction of the struggle between profit and art, between business and idealism." (Review)
  • THE DIFFICULT PEOPLE by Jean Sidden had a workshop reading at Festival51 in Providence, RI. "Sidden writes dialogue that's real, telling and doesn't manipulate the audience. As this play gains more momentum throughout the country, and it will, I can only hope all Lens deliver the greatest line in the play as White does. 'Who wants to go through life with earplugs in?' Once you see this play, you will understand the pure genius in this character having said those lines." (Review)
  • A/VERSION OF EVENTS by Matthew Ivan Bennett premiered at Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to The Utah Review: "The current Plan-B production of Matthew Ivan Bennett's newest play is an outstanding addition to the growing canon of Utah Enlightenment works." (Review)
  • CURRENCY by Jennie Webb is currently running at Inkwell Theatre in LA. "Webb's comedy zips along at a fast pace while her dependable authorial voice purrs throughout like a sweetly-tuned engine." (Review), April 15th-May 21st, 2016
  • MOLLY'S HAMMER by Tammy Ryan, a play Heather worked on through the Pittsburgh Creative Development grant, premiered in the Studio Theatre of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, March 9th-27th (Review)

Heather Helinsky is an independent dramaturg providing research and analysis, consultation, and workshops to playwrights, directors, theater companies, and college-level education programs. Heather offers her time and expertise to playwrights so that they can be better prepared to work under the pressure of limited resources when they go to production, as well as research and document to help engage audiences with the final production. Heather draws on her formative experiences as a student of the Moscow Art Theatre as well as traveling constantly around American theatre to work on a wide array of new play and classical projects. Playwrights also say Heather is "all about the work, but she is fun."

Heather is a Philadelphia-based dramaturg that playwrights have recognized as "especially adept at freeing energies in unexpected ways. She encourages discovery." Nationally, her dramaturgical work has been seen at the Accessible Theatre in Boston, American Repertory Theatre, the Apothetae, Arizona Repertory Theatre, the Athena Project Festival in Denver, Borderlands Theatre Company, City Theatre of Pittsburgh, Great Plains Theatre Conference, The Kennedy Center, The Lark, Miracle Theatre in Portland, Moscow Art Theatre's American Studio, Omaha Community Playhouse, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Plan-B Theatre, Plays and Players of Philadelphia, PlayPenn, Salt Lake Acting Company, Telluride Playwrights Festival, Unexpected Stage, and Woolly Mammoth. Since 2010, she's read and evaluated scripts for The O'Neill, PlayPenn, GPTC, Jewish Plays Project, Philly Young Playwrights, and Sundance Theatre Lab. She moves fluidly between classical dramaturgy and new play development; she has been the Literary Manager of the Pittsburgh Public and PICT Classic Theatre as well as part of the National New Play Network's rolling world premiere of Caridad Svich's Guapa. This season, Heather has dramaturged the world premiere of Tira Palmquist's play TWO DEGREES at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Andrea Hart's premiere of dark is a different beast in San Francisco as part of the initiative. As an educator, she's mentored emerging dramaturgs at KCACTF Regions 4 & 6 and has been the National Dramaturgy Coordinator for KCACTF from 2012-2015. She has been a Visiting Professor of Dramaturgy at the University of Arizona ('07/08), Carnegie Mellon School of Drama ('12/'13), and a guest teaching artist at Brooklyn College, Texas Tech and Lesley University.


    A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard
          M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Theatre Studies, 2005-2007, Robert Woodruff, Artistic Director
    DeSales University
          B.A. in Theatre Arts, 1997-2001, with a year of independent study in dramaturgy

    2008 recipient of the Beatrice, Benjamin, and Richard Bader Fellowship for the Visual Art of Theatre
    Houghton Library, Harvard University

    2011-2012 Barrymore Voter for Theatre Alliance of Philadelphia
    2014-2015 Barrymore Voter for Theatre Philadelphia
    2015 Kennedy Center's David Mark Cohen Award for Playwriting, Judge
    2016 Kennedy Center's David Mark Cohen Award for Playwriting, Judge

    Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas since 2006, TCG & TDF since 2009, Harvard Club since 2010

    American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA
    Britannicus, Robert Woodruff, dir. featuring Joan MacIntosh and Alfredo Narciso
    Three Sisters, Krystian Lupa, dir.
    Zoya's Apartment, Scott Zigler, dir.
    Betty's Summer Vacation, Marcus Stern, dir.
    Ionesco's The Killing Game, Scott Zigler, dir.

    Arizona Repertory Theatre, Tucson, AZ
    Candide, Harold Dixon, dir.
    Titus Andronicus, Brent Gibbs, dir.

    Borderlands Theatre Company, Tucson, AZ
    Guapa, Barclay Goldsmith, dir. National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere

    City Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
    Young Playwrights: The Bat Boy by Joseph Bornes (middle school student)

    Great Plains Theatre Conference, Omaha, NE
    Take Me to the River by Constance Congdon, Cindy Phaneuf, dir., originally a Denver Center commission

    Omaha Community Playhouse, Omaha, NE
    Recommended Reading for Girls by Ellen Struve, Amy Lane, dir. (premiere)
    A Night with the Family by Matthew Ivan Bennett (premiere)

    Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, PA
    Golden Age by Terrence McNally, Austin Pendleton, dir. (premiere), Edgerton Foundation New Play Award 2009

    Plan-B Theatre, Salt Lake City, UT
    A/Version of Events by Matthew Ivan Bennett, Jerry Rapier, dir. *(premiere, March 2015)

    PlayPenn New Play Development, Philadelphia, PA
    Oslo by J.T. Rogers, Tyne Rafaeli, dir.
    (premiere Lincoln Center, June 2016)

    Plays and Players of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
    Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Daniel Student, dir.

    Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
    Our Class, Aoife Spillane-Hinks, dir.
    The Kreutzer Sonata, Alan Stanford, dir.
    Chekhov Festival 2012: Three Sisters, Harriet Power, dir.
    Ivanov, Andrew Paul, dir.
    After Chekhov (plays by Friel), Alan Stanford, dir.

    Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
    Radio Golf, Ron OJ Parson, dir.
    The Lady with All the Answers, Ted Pappas, dir.
    Metamorphoses, Ted Pappas, dir.
    The World Goes Round, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, dir.
    A Moon for the Misbegotten, Pam Berlin, dir.
    Harry's Friendly Service by Rob Zellers, Ted Pappas, dir. (premiere) Edgerton Foundation New Play Award 2008

    Phoenix Theatre, Indianapolis, IN
    Guapa, Bryan Fonseca, dir. National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere

    Woolly Mammoth, Washington, D.C.
    Detroit, John Vreeke, dir. Freelance Research Consultant to Dramaturg Miriam Weisfeld

    Lark Play Development Center
    Good Dancer by Emily Chadick Weiss (2013)
    Mr. Wheelers by Rob Zellers (2013)
    The Penalty by Clay McLeod Chapman, produced by The Apothetae (2013)
    The Way of Water by Caridad Svich, Jose Zayas, dir. (2012)
    Smokey Hollow by Rob Zellers, Margarett Perry, artistic advisor (2012)
    Guapa by Caridad Svich, Jose Zayas, dir. (2011)
    The Happiness They Seek by Rob Zellers, Margarett Perry, artistic advisor (2011)
    Safekeeping by Rob Zellers, Margarett Perry, artistic advisor (2010)

    The New 42nd Street Studios
    Rehearsals for Golden Age by Terrence McNally were held here from November 2009-February 2010, with Austin Pendleton, dir. and later, Walter Bobbie, dir.

    American Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre School, Moscow, Russia
    Three Sisters, Victor Ryzhakov, dir.
    War & Peace: Impressions from the Novel (adaptation), Marina Brusnikina, dir.
    Zoya's Apartment (new adaptation), Alexandre Marin, dir.

  • Special Projects for THE KENNEDY CENTER, Washington, D.C.
    KCACTF National Festival 2016, Dramaturgy Casebook Responder with Anne Morgan and Mark Bly
    KCACTF National Festival 2015, Dramaturgy Casebook Responder with Mead Hunter, Iris Turcott, and Anne Morgan.
    KCACTF National Festival 2013, Dramaturgy Coordinator, Gregg Henry, artistic dir.
    KCACTF National Festival 2012, Dramaturgy Coordinator, Gregg Henry, artistic dir.
    KCACTF Guest Dramaturg at Region IV, 2012, 2014–2015, planned and led workshops for the dramaturgy initiative.
    KCACTF Guest Dramaturg at Region VI, 2012–2015, planned and led workshops for the dramaturgy initiative.
    The MFA Playwrights' Workshop/NNPN hosted by the Kennedy Center 2012.
    The Igloo Settlement by Daniel Sauermilch, Barclay Goldsmith, dir.
    PAGE-to-STAGE 2012: served as new play dramaturg for The Apothetae, a new company launched dedicated to the development of plays about the disabled experience.
    The Penalty by Clay McLeod Chapman, Hephaestus or Eighteen Down by Ashlin Halfnight, Good Dancer by Emily Chadick Weiss, and Downsizing Camus by Todd Bauer

  • Long-Distance Dramaturgy Consulting
    Athena Project Plays in Progress Series, Denver, CO
    We'll Never Get to Moscow by Rebecca Gorman O'Neill
    Salt Lake Acting Company, Salt Lake, UT
    [a man enters] by Elaine Jarvik, Alexandra Harbold, dir. (premiere)
    Omaha Community Playhouse, Omaha, NE
    Recommended Reading for Girls by Ellen Struve, Amy Lane, dir. (premiere)
    A Night with the Family by Matthew Ivan Bennett (premiere)

    PICT Classic Theatre, (2012-2013) Helped company transition to a new AD Alan Stanford
    Great Plains Theatre Conference (2011-2015), Conference Dramaturg
    Pittsburgh Public Theatre, (season 2008-2009), Literary Manager, under the leadership of Ted Pappas (AD) planned seasons, collaborated with group sales manager on "Lunch and Learn" series at US Steel, communicated with marketing and development staff, ran symposiums and brought in guest playwrights for Public Exposure. Ran literary department and mentored interns.
    American Repertory Theatre, (season 2006-2007), Assistant to Literary Director Scott Zigler
    Telluride Playwrights Festival (summer 2009), Festival Dramaturg

    Sundance Theatre Lab (2010-2016), Script Reader for Ignacia Delgado
    The O'Neill Theatre Center (2015 & 2016), Script Reader
    Jewish Plays Project (2014-2016), Evaluations written for David Winitsky and Jeremy Stoller
    KCACTF (2015 & 2016), Reader for the David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award
    KCACTF (2013), Reader for Michael Kanin Playwriting Award
    PlayPenn (2010-2016), Script Reader for Paul Meshejian & Michelle Volansky
    Great Plains Theatre Conference (2011-2016), Script Reader
    Philadelphia Young Playwrights (2009-2011, 2014), Script Reader
    City Theatre of Pittsburgh Young Playwrights (2010-2012, 2014), Dramaturg & Script Reader

    April 2012: Caridad Svich's International Reading Scheme of The Way of Water to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster. Connected playwright with activist groups and edited contributions to The Way of Water blog. Visit:

  • SPECIAL PROJECTS: Shakespeare
    Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. (2012-2014) Provided dramaturgical articles for their publication of The Quill for productions of Much Ado About Nothing, James Christy, dir., Measure for Measure, Fontaine Syer, dir. and director-less productions of King John and Henry VIII.

    Oslo by J.T. Rogers (Lincoln Center commission) PlayPenn (2015)
    r/LYPSE: a subreddit... by Brian Grace-Duff PlayPenn (2015)
    The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    This Flat Earth by Lindsey Ferrentino Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    El Camino del Rey by Darcy Bruce Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    Embalmed, Buried, Gone by Ashlin Halfnight Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    Countrie Matters by Matthew Wells Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    Anatomy of a Hug by Kat Ramsburg Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    The Moment Before it All Went Wrong by David Hilder Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    Speed of Light by Bella Poynton Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    St. Paulie's Delight by J. Jacob Cox Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    Gravity by Josh Wilder Great Plains Theatre Conference (2015)
    We'll Never Get to Moscow by Rebecca Gorman-O'Neill Athena Project Festival (2015)
    Aglaonike's Tiger by Claudia Barnett Carver Theatre, Alabama (2015)
    In Loco Parentis by Adam Kraar Boomerang First Flight Festival (2014)
    Safekeeping by Robert Zellers Accessible Theatre in Cambridge, MA (2014)
    Currency by Jennie Webb The Road Theatre Company (2014)
    Play Date by John Morogiello Abingdon Theatre Company (2014)
    Birds of America by Murphi Cook Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Crazy Bitch by Jennie Webb Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    The Good Fight by Anne Bertam Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Goose by Michael Yichao Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Egyptian Song by Jim Christy, Jr. Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Knock Off by Jessica Lewis Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Together We Are Making a Poem in Honor of Life by Dean Poyner Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    We Only Go Home in Retrograde by Eva Suter Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    Witches Vanish by Claudia Barnett Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    You Lost Me by Bonnie Metzgar Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014)
    The Cause by Matthew Ivan Bennett Carnegie Mellon (2013) & GPTC (2014)
    Molly's Hammer by Tammy Ryan Bricolage Theatre Company (2014)
    Learn to Be Latina by Enrique Urueta NoPassport 30/30 Philadelphia (2014)
    Digging into Lubbock (short plays) by Texas Tech students Texas Tech University Theatre (2013)
    A Disappearance in Two Parts by Cory Hinkle Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    After School Special by Kyle T. Wilson Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    The Silver Thread by Joslyn Nicole Housley-McLaughlin Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    The Tomb of King Tot by Eric Dufault Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    In a Smoke-filled Room, Color Matters by Kwakiutl L. Dreher Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    Kill Floor by Abe Koogler Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013)
    Mr. Wheelers by Rob Zellers Lark Play Development Center (2013)
    Good Dancer by Emily Chadick Weiss Lark Play Development Center (2013)
    The Wake by Caridad Svich Pittsburgh PACT/Bricolage (2013)
    Hephaestus or Eighteen Down by Ashlin Halfnight Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage (2012)
    Downsizing Camus by Todd Bauer Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage (2012)
    The Penalty by Clay McLeod Chapman Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage (2012)
    The Igloo Settlement by Daniel Sauermilch NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop at Kennedy Center (2012)
    The Way of Water by Caridad Svich Lark Play Development Center (2012)
    A User's Guide to Utopia by Thomas Gibbons Interact Theatre (2012)
    Guapa by Caridad Svich Repertorio Espanol (2012)
    Smokey Hollow by Rob Zellers Lark Play Development Center (2012)
    Recommended Reading for Girls by Ellen Struve Great Plains Theatre Conference (2011)
    The Happiness They Seek by Rob Zellers Lark Play Development Center (2011)
    Take Me to the River by Constance Congdon Great Plains Theatre Conference (2010)
    Silverhill by Thomas Gibbons Philadelphia Theatre Company (2009)
    A Small Life by Jennie Franks Telluride Playwrights Festival (2009)
    The Phantom Killer by Jan Buttram Telluride Playwrights & Abingdon (2009)
    DeeConstruction by Dee Ryan Pittsburgh Public Theatre (2008)
    Stayers & Goers by Todd Kreidler Pittsburgh Public Theatre (2008)
    Armor by Toni Press-Coffman Magic Theatre/Sloan Foundation (2008)
    Catalina de Erauso by Elaine Romero Borderlands Theatre (2008)
    Queen Bitch and the Feast of Roses by Cory Hinkle Brown University/Paula Vogel Bake-off (2006)

    Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Box Office Manager (Seasons 2004-2005)
    DeSales University Performing and Fine Arts Department, Director of Patron Services (2002-2005)
    Sellersville Theater, Founding member/Box Office Manager (2001-2002)