Brian James Polak

Brian James Polak

Brian is originally from New Hampshire and he has a tattoo to prove it. Some of his plays have been published in Smith & Kraus anthologies, and his embarrassing childhood poetry has been published in Mortified: Love is a Battlefield. He is a member of The Playwrights Union and received his MFA from the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Go to brianjamespolak.com to learn more about his work. Follow him on Twitter @bejaypea.

The Subtext. Episode 10: Sheila Callaghan

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A podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires and — ultimately — what makes writers tick. 

For our 10th episode, Brian talks to playwright (Women Laughing Alone with Salad) and TV writer (Shameless, United States of Tara) Sheila Callaghan. Sheila discusses the intersection of the personal and theatrical in her play Bed as well as the famous Tumblr, which inspired her play Women Laughing Alone with Salad. Sheila may have referred to phallic water bottles and cage dancing, so this interview may be NSFW.


SHEILA CALLAGHAN‘s plays have been produced and developed with Soho Rep, Playwright’s Horizons, Yale Rep, South Coast Repertory, Clubbed Thumb, The LARK, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, New Georges, The Flea, Woolly Mammoth, Boston Court, and Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, among others. Sheila is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for emerging artists, a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, a MacDowell Residency, a Cherry Lane Mentorship Fellowship, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and the prestigious Whiting Award. Her plays have been produced internationally in New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Germany, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. These include SCAB, CRAWL FADE TO WHITE, CRUMBLE (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS, DEAD CITY, LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING, KATE CRACKERNUTS, THAT PRETTY PRETTY; OR, THE RAPE PLAY, FEVER/DREAM, EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH, ROADKILL CONFIDENTIAL, ELEVADA, BED, and WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD. She is published with Playscripts.com and Samuel French, and several of her collected works are published with Counterpoint Press. She has taught playwriting at Columbia University, The University of Rochester, The College of New Jersey, Florida State University, and Spalding University. Sheila is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb and a member of the Obie winning playwright’s organization 13P. Sheila is also an alumni of New Dramatists.

In 2010, Callaghan was profiled by Marie Claire as one of “18 Successful Women Who Are Changing the World.” She was also named one of Variety magazine’s “10 Screenwriters to Watch” of 2010. Sheila is currently a writer/producer on the hit Showtime comedy Shameless and a founder of the feminist activist group The Kilroys. In 2016 she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on the Hulu comedy series Casual.


Reach The Subtext at thesubtextpodcast@gmail.com, or on Twitter @SubtextPodcast.