Stephen Karam is an American playwright and screenwriter. He was born in 1979 to a Lebanese-American family, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he spent his childhood. Growing up in Scranton, he wasn’t exposed to much culture, but while in the first grade, he saw his older sister in a production of Little Shop of Horrors, an event that sparked a lifelong interest in theatre. Karam attended Brown University, where he majored in English, and while he was in college, he held his first professional theatre job, which involved reading scripts for Trinity Repertory Company’s literary department.
After graduating from Brown in 2002, Karam apprenticed at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he met P.J. Paparelli, with whom he co-wrote Columbinus, which is loosely based on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Columbine, Colorado. Columbinus was produced by the New York Theatre Workshop and was Karam’s first professional production. Karam’s next work was Speech & Debate, and artistic director and CEO of Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, loved it so much that he built a new black box space specifically for the premiere.
Since then, Karam has written the two plays that have earned him recognition as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Sons of the Prophet, which chronicles the story of two gay Lebanese-American brothers who are trying to cope after their father’s death, and The Humans, in which an Irish-American family deal with “aging, illness, and a changing economy” at their Thanksgiving dinner. Karam won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play for The Humans. Karam is also a prominent screenwriter, having adapted his Speech & Debate for the screen and having written a film adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, which stars Saoirse Ronan, Annette Benning, and Corey Stall. Karam has stated that his plays are “emotional autobiographies,” for he has an unending fascination with the human condition. He is openly gay.