The son of Mary Lee (née Baird) and Douglas Rapp, he was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, with his brother, actor Anthony Rapp, and sister, Anne. His parents divorced when Rapp was five, and he and his siblings were raised by their mother, who died in 1997 from cancer.
He graduated from St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he played varsity basketball. He had dreams of becoming a professional basketball player until he took a poetry writing class in college, where he discovered he had a talent for creating stories. He also completed a two-year playwriting fellowship at The Juilliard School.
Rapp attended the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in 1996. His play Finer Noble Gases was staged by the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 2000, by Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2001, by Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in Charlotte in 2003, and by Rattlestick Theatre in New York City in 2004. In 2001, Nocturne was premiered by the New York Theatre Workshop. It has also been staged at by American Repertory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. His play Stone Cold Dead Serious was produced in 2002 by the American Repertory Theater.
Rapp's Red Light Winter received the Joseph Jefferson Award in 2005 for its production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The play was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2006. Rapp directed a production of Los Angeles, by Julian Sheppard, in 2007 at the Flea Theatre. As of 2007, Rapp was the resident playwright at the Edge Theatre Company in New York City. He teaches at the Yale School of Drama. In 2011, Rapp's The Metal Children was given its regional debut by Swine Palace on Louisiana State University's campus.
The majority of Rapp's plays feature small casts and are set in small spaces. Many characters in the plays are lower-class Americans. His plays often combine stories of Midwestern longing with the idea of finding escape in New York. He combines humor with gloom, preferring dark themes.
In a conversation with fellow playwright Gina Gionfriddo published in The Brooklyn Rail, Rapp says: "When you see something powerfully acted on stage, it hits a nerve in the way music hits a nerve … Watching someone twelve feet from you falling in love or being abused … There’s something raw about that experience that you don’t get from film or TV."
Rapp's first young adult novel, Missing the Piano, was published in 1996. After writing his second book, The Buffalo Tree, in 1999, Rapp was invited to be the first author in residence at Ridgewood High School. The Buffalo Tree was censored by the Muhlenberg School Board in Reading, Pennsylvania due to its themes, graphic language and sexual content. His 2003 novel 33 Snowfish was one of Young Adult Library Services Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. He released Under the Wolf, Under the Dog in 2004. His first adult novel, The Year of Endless Sorrows, was released in 2006. Rapp made his graphic novel debut with the release of Ball Peen Hammer in September 2009.
Rapp has said that his ideas for characters and stories come to him most often while playing basketball or walking the streets of New York. He is interested in the rhythm and language that he hears while listening to conversations and voices.
Rapp directed his first film, Winter Passing with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell (2005), and was a creative consultant for the television show The L Word. While working on The L Word, Rapp left in the middle of the season to attend the Edinburgh Festival. He wrote for the 2010 season of HBO's In Treatment. He was a member of the band Bottomside, which released the independent CD The Element Man in September 2004. He is a member of "Less the Band", which released the album Bear in April 2006.
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (December 28, 2010)
Amazon Kindle: Punkzilla
An award-winning writer and playwright hits the open road for a searing novel-in-letters about a street kid on a highstakes trek across America.
For a runaway boy who goes by the name "Punkzilla," kicking a meth habit and a life of petty crime in Portland, Oregon, is a prelude to a mission: reconnecting with his older brother, a gay man dying of cancer in Memphis. Against a backdrop of seedy motels, dicey bus stations, and hitched rides, the desperate fourteen-year-old meets a colorful, sometimes dangerous cast of characters. And in letters to his sibling, he catalogs them all — from an abusive stranger and a ghostly girl to a kind transsexual and an old woman with an oozing eye. The language is raw and revealing, crackling with visceral details and dark humor, yet with each interstate exit Punkzilla’s journey grows more urgent: will he make it to Tennessee in time? This daring novel offers a narrative worthy of Kerouac and a keen insight into the power of chance encounters.
More Spotlights at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
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