Joe Zarrow headshot
Joe Zarrow is an
Actor and Playwright.

Check out Joe's reel. It includes scenes from his Network TV debut on Chicago PD.

Joe as Watson

Joe won a Wilde Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play for his performance as Watson in Open Book Theater's production of The (curious case of) the Watson Intelligence.

Joe's short film Feed, written, shot, and edited in one weekend at his home in Ann Arbor during quarantine, was a finalist in the Without Precedent 48-Hour Film Festival.

Joe was nominated for the Wilde Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for his performance as Max in Comedy of Tenors at Tipping Point Theater.

DePaul Theater School Building

In February 2019, Sophomore BFA Students produced The Retreat, or Whatevs, Joe's contemporary adaptation of As You Like It at the Theater School at DePaul University.

Principal Principle, nominated for the Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best New Work, is now available from Dramatic Publishing. If you are considering producing Principal Principle, please read this note about casting.




Joe Acts

The Totalitarians

by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb

directed by Carla Milarch for Theater Nova

"I felt almost guilty for laughing so hard." Kym Reinstadler, Encore Michigan

"Zarrow's all-in performance was, for me, the true standout." Jenn McKee, We Love Ann Arbor

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

by Madeleine George

directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank for Open Book Theater

Winner, 2020 Wilde Award for Best Actor in a Play

"Mr. Zarrow does an excellent job of changing characters...Zarrow’s humanity in his role as artificial-intelligence guy is slightly eerie." David Kiley, Encore Michigan

Buddy Cop 2

by the Debate Society

directed by Cassy Sanders for Pavement Group

"The three who deserve the most praise are the trio at the center of the story: Cyd Blakewell, Gabriel Franken, and Joe Zarrow, playing three small-minded but well-meaning small-town cops, each of whom wants desperately to turn the story of a young girl dying of a mysterious disease at Christmas into a heartwarming made-for-TV movie." Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader (Recommended)

This

by Melissa James Gibson

directed by Carl Menninger for Windy City Playhouse

"Zarrow displays a natural comedic timing and ease." Raymond Pierce, Chicago Stage Standard

"It's a testament to Zarrow's standout performance that Alan never feels like a trope, conveying with gentle smiles and a few barbs what a mixed blessing his perfect memory can be." Allison Shoemaker, Time Out Chicago

"The real standouts however, are Amy Rubenstein (Jane) and Joe Zarrow (Alan). Their complexities are so strong and unique, we can't help but latch on." Sean Margaret Wagner, Windy City Times




Joe Writes

Full-Length Plays

Principal Principle

5F, 100 minutes, two acts

Read the script at Dramatic Publishing

download press kit (2.7 MB)

If you are considering producing Principal Principle, please read this note about casting.

Photo by Emily Schwartz

Armed only with her dreams of making the world a better place and six weeks of training, Kay Josephs quits her corporate job to teach English in an urban high school. She wakes up to harsh realities: the copy machine is broken, the system is broken, and the spirits of her fellow teachers are broken. Or are they? A dark comedy of academic intrigue.

"There are very few excellent plays about public education. This is one."
- , Chicago Tribune

"★★★★ This clear-eyed glimpse into the teachers' lounge makes hearty laughs part of an all too relevant lesson plan."
- , Time Out Chicago

"Former public school teacher Joe Zarrow achieves something remarkable...an entertaining play about education that re-creates all the quirks and craziness of modern education without lapsing into either cynical hopelessness or Hollywood-style superteacher fantasies. His dialogue feels authentic, and his characters are flawed but likable human beings, not mouthpieces for this or that ideology."
-

"Engaging, intelligent, and important. Highly recommended."
- , Chicago Theater Review

  • Next Act Theater (Milwaukee, WI) - Streaming Production - 2021
  • Fontbonne University Theater (St Louis, MO) - Production - 2018
  • Wesleyan College (Macon, GA) - Production - 2017
  • Dolphin Theater (Auckland, NZ) - Production - 2016
  • Mirror Stage Seattle - Reading - 2015
  • Stage Left / Theater Seven of Chicago - World Premiere - 2014
    Joseph Jefferson Award-Nominated for Best New Work
  • Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep - Developmental Production - 2012
  • Acadiana Repertory Theater New Works Festival - Reading - 2012
  • Theater Seven of Chicago - Reading - 2012

The Retreat, or Whatevs

7F, 6M, 120 minutes, two acts

request script

A Chicago-based nonprofit director disappeared to a retreat in rural Wisconsin months ago, and in his absence the board has started firing staff left and right. One by one, they run to the woods to find new identities, new purpose, and new love. A modern update of Shakespeare's As You Like It.

  • Academic Production, The Theater School at DePaul, 2019

Retcon

or, Actually it's a Play About Ethics in Superhero Journalism

3F, 2M, 80 minutes, one act

request script

get this script

A beloved comic book superheroine is finally getting her own feature film, but some fans are very unhappy with the casting. A universe-hopping play about geek culture, race, and keeping your story straight.

  • Workshop, Leapfest - Stage Left, 2017
  • Reading, Michigan Playwrights Fest - Theater Nova, 2017
  • Finalist, Downstage Left Residency - Stage Left, 2016

The Absent Minded

2F, 3M, 85 minutes, one act

request script

get this script

Domestic drone operator Boyd should be doing well: he has a loving wife, a supportive business partner, and a clean bill of health after a bout with cancer. Instead, he's so acutely desperate to escape his body that he turns to a mad scientist for help in this dark comedy about the mind-body problem.

  • The New Colony - Workshop - 2017
  • Shattered Globe Theater - Reading - 2015
  • The Ruckus - Reading - 2014

The Pigeons

3F, 3M, 90 minutes, one act

a gentrification farce

request script

Photo by Stephan Mazurek

"Without a doubt, one can arrive unprepared for Joe Zarrow's new play, The Pigeons, produced by Walkabout Theater, at Swim Cafe's space. It's easily the cleverest, foxiest and physically wildest farce I've seen since, well, forever."
- , Chicago Theater Blog

"Very funny satire."
- Chicago Reader (Recommended)

  • Walkabout Theater Company - World Premiere - 2010
  • Stage Left - Reading - 2009

Short Plays

Love Space

1 actor, 9 minutes

get this script

Captain Talosi attempts one last interstellar love connection as alien troops board the Starship Hieronymus. A monologue written to be performed via Zoom to an audience of one.

  • Open Book Theater - World Premiere - 2021

The Drill

2F, 2M, 12 minutes

get this script

Photo by Shane Simmons

At a small town high school's active shooter drill, the backdrop of blank shots and bullet hole makeup inspires two teens and two adults to explore what is real in their world. Written for The Appetizer Plays speed playwriting festival.

  • The Appetizer Plays - World Premiere - 2015

Everythingaoke

3F, 3M, 1 actor of any gender, 10 minutes

get this script

A science-fictional exploration of the transformational power of karaoke. Includes robots, pandas, and the Gettysburg Address.

  • LiveWire - World Premiere - 2013

Rondo a la Bongo

2F, 1M, teen actors, 10 minutes

get this script

Sibling rivalry, a circle of vengeance-wreaking, and a cat named Bongo with an unfortunate haircut. A fun short play for young actors, commissioned for the Piven Theater Scene Study Class.

  • Piven Theater Scene Study Class - World Premiere - 2016

Kodak Shirley

2F, 10 minutes

get this script

Film still by Francesca Pazniokas

"Kodak Shirley" was the colloquial term for the models whose faces were used to calibrate color film printers. This time-hopping exploration of race and photographic technology was commissioned for Broken Nose Theater's Bechdel Fest.

  • The Hive Collaborative - Film Adaptation - 2020
  • Broken Nose Theater - World Premiere - 2015

Roll

2F, 10 minutes

get this script

Jade is crushed that her D&D group is breaking up, but she convinces Kristin to hang around for one last very important dungeon crawl. Inspired by Radiohead's "Let Down," and commissioned for Tympanic Theater's Today We Escape festival.

"A superlative example of character driving storytelling."
- , Chicago Theater Review

  • Tympanic Theater - World Premiere - 2015

Overnight Parking Ban, in Effect

1 actor of any gender, 10 minutes

get this script

A Chicagoan confronts the city's parking violation bureaucracy.

  • Collaboraction - World Premiere - 2016



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