Cover illustration by Steve Sandstrom

The Fall to Earth

Joel Drake Johnson
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An unexpected death throws Fay and her daughter, Rachel, together for the first time in years. When a friendly police officer attempts to ease their suffering, their funny, frustrating relationship takes on a new life. Joel Drake Johnson's hilarious and harrowing play examines how the relationship between parent and child constantly changes, yet remains the same.

Production Info

Cast: 3 total (3 female)
Full Length Drama (about 95 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tag:

Press Quotes

“… This is a richly written play, with its complexities and deceptive depths cleverly hidden by anecdotal small talk. Many authors use this approach and get lost in it. Their plays become stop-and-go affairs, but not Johnson’s. No matter how small the chat, he constantly sustains the arcs of his characters and the lines of their actions. This play is only three characters and three scenes in ninety-five minutes, but there is nothing small or safe about it. Indeed, THE FALL TO EARTH is a dangerous play with terrible things to say about family fabric and the ego of parenting. It asks its three performers to take huge risks and get naked emotionally …” —Jonathan Abarbanel, W T T W Public Radio & Windy City Times

“Some people need years of therapy to get an inkling of who they are. Chicago playwright Joel Drake Johnson takes only ninety-five minutes to reveal the wounds, quirks and flaws of the three women in his fascinating new play, THE FALL TO EARTH. A compact drama with dark comedic overtones, THE FALL TO EARTH is a revelatory slice of a mother’s life as she travels to her son’s town after he dies … In THE FALL TO EARTH, the mother, stays in a hotel with her estranged adult daughter. A local cop helps them through the process … It’s hard to watch two family members suffer so deeply and harm each other so consistently, without feeling sympathy and possibly a disturbing sense of familiarity … Johnson holds up a mirror for us to feel our own aches and also to laugh at our flawed ways of coping. Dark tales such as this are a hard sell to people who prefer Happy Meal theater. But for those who like drama that drags them down dark, unfamiliar paths and into the rocky terrain of their own hearts, THE FALL TO EARTH is a rewarding trek.” —Orla Swift, The News Observer (Durham)

About the Author


  • Joel Drake Johnson

    Joel Drake Johnson is an award winning, internationally produced playwright and teacher who got his start as a writer at Chicago's critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater (Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia, artistic directors). His latest play RASHEEDA SPEAKING, originally directed by Sandy Shinner and produced by Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre, opened in New York City at The Signature Theatre as part of The New Group’s 2014-15 season. Under the direction of Tony and Emmy Award Winner, Cynthia Nixon, it featured two time Oscar Winner, Dianne Wiest and Tony Award Winner, Tonya Pinkins as well as Darren Goldstein (“The Affair”) and Patricia Conolly (ensemble member/ Guthrie Theater and Stratford Festival). RASHEEDA was subsequently nominated for best new off-Broadway play by the The Outer Critics Circle. Other plays include FOUR PLACES first produced at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater under the direction of Sandy Shinner and featuring Mary Ann Thebus and Meg Thalken. It was subsequently produced in LA by The Rogue Machine Theatre, where under the direction of Robin Larsen and featuring Tony nominee, Roxanne Hart, it garnered more critical acclaim that included five Ovation Award nominations, four nominations (including best play) from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and a Garland Award for Best New Play. It has since been produced internationally. Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A BLUE MOON which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists Theatre (Russ Tutterow, artistic director) and Woodstock, NY. Other works include AS THE BEAVER, first produced by Zebra Crossing, THE END OF THE TOUR first produced by Victory Gardens, and THE FALL TO EARTH which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award Winner, Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep featuring Tony Award Winner, Michelle Pawk and directed by Joe Brancato; at 59E59 Theatre in NYC, featuring Tony nominee, Amelia Campbell (dir: Joe Brancato); The Odyssey Theatre in LA featuring Oscar nominee JoBeth Williams (dir: Robin Larsen). Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre produced the premiere of THE FIRST GRADE (dir: Tom Ross) which won the San Francisco/ Bay Area Critic Circle Award for best new play of 2010-11. Johnson has been commissioned four times by Steppenwolf Theatre, commissions which led to productions of A BLAMELESS LIFE (dir: Tony Award Winner, Anna D. Shapiro) and TRANQUILLITY WOODS (dir. Sandy Shinner). Johnson has been nominated 5 times for Best New Play by Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award Committee. He is currently working on a new play commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre. He has taught playwriting at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL, DePaul University and Northwestern University.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 11/1/2006
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881453201

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Fall to Earth is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


1/19/2018 – 2/3/2019
A Thousand Word Pictures,llc
Doraville, GA