Rosemary McLaughlin

Rosemary McLaughlin is a 2015 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellow. She has previously won fellowships both in playwriting and poetry.  Her plays have been produced in New York, New Jersey and around the country. Recent ones include A More Opportune Time, a free adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, set during the 2008 presidential election and Paterson Falls, which was commissioned by Writers Theatre of New Jersey. Paterson Falls is part one of The American Moment trilogy, about silk strikes, saloons, the discovery of Eugene O’Neill and the American Theatre finding its voice.

Along with these recent epic plays, Rosemary has experimented with shorter forms. In Sensitive, which premiered at Cincinnati’s SHEtheatre, a woman discovers her home intruder is a police officer. In Can-Can, performed at Cathedral Arts Live, a woman on the brink of an auspicious birthday commandeers a live production, holding dancers and musicians at bay.

Other plays include Totally Not Liam (Speranza Theatre); Standing in the Shadows (Wings Theatre); Voices Carry (Drew University); Motherless Child (Chicago Cooperative Stage);  Horsefeathers; The Raw and the Cooked (Hallie Flanagan Play Series).

Rosemary is a professor of Theatre and Dance at Drew University where she directs the Playwriting program. A member of the Dramatists Guild and the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, Rosemary received her MFA from Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts.


in Intimate Acts (Brito-Lair Publishing Company) and in Scenes and Monologues for Young People (Dramatic Publishing Co.)  She is a co-founder of Waterfront Ensemble, the Win Atkins Theatre Project and the Hallie Flanagan Play Series.

Project Description

The full length play I’m currently working on is a darkly comic exploration of memory, consciousness and eminent domain. Set alongside the Delaware River in the area slated for flooding by the Tocks Island Dam, friends sample fine wines, re-negotiate family and try to avoid being eaten by bears.

It has two working titles: The Longest Free Flowing River (East of the Mississippi) is the polite one mostly for public consumption, referencing the actual river (Delaware) of the setting and the metaphor of consciousness being unconfined by conventional borders. Demented is the title I use for myself, when I catch the writing becoming too prosaic or even too poetic.

I want this play to cut to the core, to expose the wrath that is Alzheimer’s and related disease and yet not be an “illness play”. This play isn’t about sorrow and weeping. It is not an elegy.

It is an exploration. Like dementia, it is rude, funny, horrible, moving. It will, I hope, illumine pathways that are clear and others that are unfathomably blocked. It will show that some remarkable things come through, against all odds.

And it’s about bears, black bears, and living among them. About having time and space to write and yet getting stuck. About siblings and chosen family. About a river that threatens to drown a community dating back before the Revolutionary War, to take away domiciles and structures, all forms of memory. It’s about a dam, about property condemned. About squatting and living in liminal space. Limbo on the Delaware. And really nice wines.

My goal over the next 12 months is to develop the current draft, research as needed, and take advantage of the readings and resources offered by WTNJ to experiment with form, sound and image. Over the 18 months my objective is to complete the play  (as much as any play is ever complete.)