“David Schmader does the masters of the confessional monologue (like Spalding Gray) one better, by linking the form to an older, more literary tradition—the personal essay, where personal experience becomes a springboard to much larger issues.”

—Chicago Reader


Working with directors Dan Savage, Chay Yew, and Matthew Richter, he’s performed at Seattle's Richard Hugo House, On the Boards, Intiman Theater, and Bumbershoot Arts Festival; Los Angeles' Highways Performance Space; San Francisco's Theatre Rhinoceros; New York City's Dixon Place; and the Wexner Center for the Arts


Letter to Axl

1993 solo play exploring sex and desire, masculinity and power, and the tight connections that can exist between the most disparate people. Directed by Dan Savage, with productions at Seattle's Rm 608, Re-bar, and the Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Chicago's Splinter Group Theater, New York City's Dixon Place, and the Wexner Center of the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.


“Schmader does the masters of the confessional monologue (like Spalding Gray) one better by yoking the form to an older, more literary tradition, that of the personal essay, which makes private experience a springboard to broader issues. In Letter to Axl Schmader uses his autobiographical stories and his obsession with the notoriously homophobic, misogynistic, chemically dependent rock star Axl Rose as a way of examining homophobia, masculinity, and the scary power of the mass media to inspire unrequited love in millions of people.”

 —Chicago Reader


“Exhilarating.... Tough, smart, nasty, witty, and constantly surprising.”

—P-Form Journal


“A virtuoso monologue.” 

—Seattle Weekly






1999 solo play investigating the world of conversion therapy, the psychological and spiritual procedure by which homosexuals are reputedly made “straight.” Premiered in 1999 at Seattle's Re-bar, directed by Dan Savage. A touring version directed by Chay Yew was subsequently produced at Los Angeles's Highways Performance Space, New York City's Dixon Place, and San Francisco's Theatre Rhinocerous. In 2002, Straight was turned into a performance film which played film festivals in Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Washington DC, and can be streamed on Amazon Prime.


“Brilliant...a compassionate, funny, but ardently intelligent exploration of the basic concepts of gender identity.”

—Seattle Weekly


“Straight exacts sweet revenge, as Schmader spins sentence after sentence with wit, style, and flashes of naughtiness.”

—Los Angeles Times


“Fabulously intelligent...Unlike so many other ‘preaching to the choir’ plays, Schmader puts the gay community under the microscope, too...With this parallel questioning of both communities, Schmader transcends the accepted definitions of straight and gay, making Straight one of the most thought-provoking plays I've seen in a while.”

—San Francisco Weekly


“Schmader thankfully has as little regard for knee-jerk liberalism as he does for intolerant Bible-thumping, so his humorously empathetic sketches of hopeful future ‘ex-gays’ largely dig deeper where they could seek out the easy punchline.”

—Austin Chronicle


“A roller coaster escapade of critical thinking…. Schmader keeps his thoughtful, dialectical perspective accessible with sharp wit.”

—San Antonio Current

A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem

2011 solo play about the dramatic life upheaval that drove Schmader to spend a decade “living every day like it’s your last!”—a profoundly ridiculous adventure that finds him aiming his pointy-headed wit at marriage, Mormons, and the type of relaxation that comes from watching a baby get a spray tan. Commissioned by Richard Hugo House, directed by Matthew Richter, with subsequent productions at Seattle's Intiman Theatre and the University of Puget Sound in conjunction with Tacoma Art Museum.


“Amazing. Schmader's fluid, conversational language, coupled with his incredible ability to spin true events into epic stories is profoundly funny and touching. He touches on some of life's most difficult issues, as well the most ridiculously out-of-touch, unrealistic aphorisms that people slap on it to make it less awful—and all without slipping into the kind of cliches that make talking about the big stuff mind-numblingly asinine.”



“His protean wit, his willingness to stare without blinking into howlingly painful emotional cyclones, and his unfailingly calibrated ethical compass are three virtues every writer should strive to emulate. His hilarious but humane solo show is "a comedy about unfunny things": children who die, adults who get sick, and the intricate damage religion can inflict on young people. This performance is Schmader at his best, and sitting through it is not only a sublimely funny experience—it could also make you a better person.”

—The Stranger


“This storyteller doesn’t so much pour his heart out as construct himself—doubts, passions, distractions and all — before our eyes.”

—Seattle Times