From Theatre Teacher to Top Playwright: Discover how Don Zolidis became the most-produced playwright in American Schools

In the heart of American educational theater, one name echoes with remarkable reverence: Don Zolidis. As the most produced playwright in America, Don’s story is not just a playwright’s success but a journey that has inspired and shaped the landscape of school theater across the nation and beyond.

Originally from Wisconsin, Zolidis received his bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and an MFA in Playwriting from the Actor’s Studio Program at the New School University. After graduation, but before becoming a household name with theater programs everywhere, Don began his career as a high school and middle school theatre teacher. His time as a theatre educator not only shaped his writing but also embedded a deep understanding of youth in his work.

In the ensuing decades, Don’s success as a playwright is almost unmatched. His portfolio, boasting well over 125 published plays, resonates with a rare universality. His plays have been performed well over 30,000 times, with performances taking place in all 50 US States, every Canadian province, and 67 other countries. Each performance is a testament to Don’s ability to connect with young audiences through humor, empathy, and a profound understanding of their world.

Zolidis’s literary talents extend beyond the stage. His foray into the world of young adult literature saw him penning “The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig (A Love Story),” published by Disney-Hyperion in 2018. This was followed by “War and Speech,” published in 2020 by Little Brown. Both novels, like his plays, delve into the complexities of adolescent life with wit and sensitivity.

The accolades and honors Don has received are numerous, including the Princess Grace Award and multiple Edgerton New Play awards. His plays have found homes in places like the Purple Rose Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Victory Theatre, and others. Each venue has witnessed the unique Zolidis touch – a blend of humor, poignancy, and an engaging narrative style that speaks directly to the heart of young audiences.

Beyond the statistics and accolades lies the true impact of Zolidis’s work. His plays have become a rite of passage for many young actors, a source of inspiration for teachers, and a beacon of creativity and expression in educational settings. In an age where the arts often struggle for recognition in schools, his work stands as a powerful reminder of the vital role theater plays in education – fostering empathy, creativity, and a shared sense of community.

Zolidis’s legacy is woven into the fabric of American educational theater. Through his plays and novels, he has touched countless lives, sparking a love for theater and storytelling in a new generation. His journey from a classroom teacher to one of the most celebrated playwrights in schools is a narrative of passion, dedication, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of theater. It’s a story that continues to unfold, one stage, one classroom, one young performer at a time.

What’s New from Zolidis?

The A.I. Play

When Eleanor uses a chatbot to write a paper on The Great Gatsby for her, she figures it’s not that big of a deal. But when her chatbot writes the best essay on The Great Gatsby ever, she’s sent to a special school for genius children. Except every other student also used a chatbot to get into the special genius children school. And that school might not be a school, it might just be prison. Now Eleanor has to lead a jailbreak with her friends—can she escape without the help of artificial intelligence?


When eight mystery writers arrive at a legendary writer’s fog-shrouded island mansion in the North Atlantic, they think they’re ready for the Deadline Challenge—twenty-four restful hours to write as much of their new novel as possible. But the Deadline Challenge is anything but restful. In reality, the writers are brought together to solve a murder—the victim yet be determined, and the killer yet to strike. If a writer can design and execute a perfect murder and get away with it, they’ll win a million dollars (which is a lot of money for a writer). Who will live? Who will die? Who will survive the Deadline?

How to Get Away with a Murder Mystery

Five mysterious color-coded guests. A mansion. A murder. Can the killer get away with it? And how will the sleuths bring them to justice? A handy guide for how to escape the law when you just happen to be a prime suspect of a mysterious murder. Told in vignettes in a style similar to 10 Ways To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse, this show hilariously skewers the tropes of the murder mystery: an airtight alibi, a long-winded monologue by a detective with an accent, an impossibly complicated Rube Goldberg murder device? Check, check, and check!

Emily Brontë, Teenage Necromancer

1835. Northern England. The moors. A terrifying phantom has appeared at the Roe Head School for Girls, terrorizing its students and driving the school near to extinction. It’s up to star pupil Emily Brontë, and her sisters Anne and Charlotte, to discern the true nature of the haunting, using their unique talents—which happen to include necromancy. A gothic, hilarious ride through English literature that needs magic, ghosts, and fog, featuring an undead goose, a lovesick ghost, and a talking meat pudding.

I Heard You Were Dead

Constantine Wright spent his sophomore year in high school surviving lymphocytic leukemia. But going back to school for his junior year might be harder than beating cancer. Especially since the girl of his dreams, Chloe Jimenez, doesn’t realize she inadvertently saved his life. With the help of his best friend Piper, who specializes in writing steamy werewolf fan fiction, he tries to formulate a plan to win her over. But Piper has issues of her own, and needs Constantine’s help as much as he needs hers. A play about love, friendship, trauma, and recovery.

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