About Leah Ryan

Photos by Elizabeth O'Connor

Leah Ryan was a playwright, essayist, writer of post-modern greeting cards, and a general woman of letters. Her plays have been performed all over the United States.

Her play Bleach, a dark comedy about the legacy of the Armenian genocide, received the Maibaum Award for plays dealing with issues of social justice. Ryan taught playwriting, English, and creative writing to a wide variety of students, including those at the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, where she was a professor in the Arts and Communications department and founder of their Writing Center.

Ms. Ryan also worked with groups of high school and college students at Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater Training Program where members of the Training Company have performed several of her plays and adaptations. She received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for her work with Epic Theatre Centre, creating modern adaptations of classic plays with groups of middle and high school students.

Ms. Ryan graduated with honors from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar, winning the Denis Johnston prize for excellence in playwriting three times and the Jill Cummins MacLean Prize once. Ms. Ryan went on to earn her Artist Diploma in Playwriting at Juilliard and her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she won the Distinguished Teaching award and was twice chosen to take part in the annual Iowa Playwrights Festival.

Her publications include the literary anthology For Here or To Go, and Even More Monologues by Women for Women, essays in The Best of Temp Slave, as well as work in many small magazines. Her play Pigeon was published by Playscripts, Inc. Her short work also appeared in 400 Words, including the debut issue. She was fiction editor and a regular columnist at Punk Planet magazine.

Leah Ryan died of leukemia at the age of 44 on June 12, 2008, in New York City.