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Mr. Burns, a post-electric play - Full Length Play, Dark Comedy

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play

Anne Washburn

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Full Length Play, Dark Comedy

3m, 5f

What will endure when the cataclysm arrives—when the grid fails, society crumbles, and we’re faced with the task of rebuilding?

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Rental Materials | Media | Author | Now Playing | Reviews

Minimum Fee: $100 per performance,

Interested producers should contact their Licensing Representative to obtain a perusal copy.


Full Length Play

Dark Comedy


More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Time Period - Contemporary, The Future

Settings Of Play - This play is set in the very near future. Then 7 years after that. The 75 years after that


Unit Set/Multiple Settings

Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


Gun Shots, Mild Adult Themes


Appropriate for all audiences, Adult


College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Dinner Theatre, Professional Theatre, Shoestring Budget, Large Stage, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


From Off-Broadway

WINNER - 2015 Whiting Award
NOMINEE- 2014 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off- Broadway Play
Anne Washburn is the recipient of the 2015 Whiting Award for Drama

Anne Washburn’s imaginative dark comedy propels us forward nearly a century, following a new civilization stumbling into its future.

After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of "The Simpsons" episode "Cape Feare" entirely from memory. 7 years later, this and other snippets of pop culture (sitcom plots, commercials, jingles, and pop songs) have become the live entertainment of a post-apocalyptic society, sincerely trying to hold onto its past. 75 years later, these are the myths and legends from which new forms of performance are created.

A paean to live theater, and the resilience of Bart Simpson through the ages, Mr. Burns is an animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another.


"Anne Washburn’s hypnotic, sly and fiendishly insinuatingMr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play...does the improbable: It makes the end of civilization seem like the perfect time to create glowing objects of wonder and beauty." - Time Out New York, Read More

"Downright Brilliant. When was the last time you met a new play that was so smart it made your head spin? Get ready to reel, New York. Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play has arrived to leave you dizzy with the scope and dazzle of its ideas. With grand assurance and artistry, Ms. Washburn makes us appreciate anew the profound value of storytelling in and of itself, and makes a case for theater as the most glorious and durable storyteller of all. I look forward to remembering it for a long, long time." (Critic's Pick) — The New York Times, Read More

Get in line ASAP. This bizarre, funny, bleak, wonderful show is even better than its hype. Inventively directed by the Civilians’ Steve Cosson, it’s also one of the most affecting tributes to theater and tenacity you’re likely to see all year." — New York Post, Read More

"...with songs of horror and resilience, Washburn reminds us of the ways stories survive and adapt with us, how their specifics and lessons change to the society that tells them, how their meaning is inconstant but our need for that meaning, whatever it happens to be at a given time, is pure and permanent...The stories we tell ourselves, the jokes we repeat, the TV in which we pickle—all that shapes us, the show insists, and none of it need be the dead end we might fear. From hell, Mr. Burns sends us to heaven." — The Village Voice, Read More

"As she continually does in this big, bold play, Washburn suggests we choose best by choosing both, expanding our sense of play (and our accompanying sense of what theater can do) so that we might truthfully tell even the most painful stories from our collective past in a way that we can really hear them – thereby enabling the sort of catharsis that allows us to move on." - The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Read More

Read More About Mr. Burns

"Mr. Burns subtly dramatises the process of cultural transmission in a mass media era. In Washburn's post-apocalyptic world, the works of Joseph Conrad, William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams apparently survive only in episodes of The Simpsons punningly titled 'Bart of Darkness,' 'Much Apu about Nothing' and 'A Streetcar Named Marge.'" - The Bard to Bart: How Mr. Burns Challenges Our Common Culture - The Guardian Read More

"By the end of the second act of Mr. Burns, [Washburn] has stripped America's longest-running scripted show down to its essentials, allowing her to build something entirely new out of familiar parts."- When the Lights Go Done, Dumb Jokes Keep Us Warm - HowlRound Read More

Mr. Burns a post-electric play received its world premiere at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington DC in May, 2012, and had its New York City debut at Playwrights Horizons in August, 2013 under the direction of Steve Cosson. 


3m, 5f


Ensemble cast, Non-Traditional casting, Expandable casting, Flexible casting, Room for Extras


It should be noted that the characters in this play bear at best a passing and in many cases no resemblance whatsoever to the actors initially involved in the project!



Roles are doubled/tripled like so:

MATT - Homer/Scratchy
JENNY - Marge/Marge
SUSANNAH - Lisa & Second FBI Agent/Itchy
SAM - Bart/Mr. Burns
COLLEEN - First FBI Agent/Lisa
GIBSON - Loving Husband & Sideshow Bob/Homer
QUINCY - Businesswoman/Bart
NEDRA - Edna Krabappel 

Everyone participates in the second act medley, and everyone spare sings chorally in the third act -- with Nedra (playing Edna Krabappel) as the Chorus Leader.
Rental Materials





  • MR. BURNS (NY Premiere), Playwrights Horizons

  • MR. BURNS, a post-electric play - Woolly Mammoth

  • Matthew Maher - In Performance, NY Times

Anne Washburn

Anne Washburn

Anne Washburn’s play, MR. BURNS, was produced by Playwrights Horizons, Woolly Mammoth (DC), and The Almeida (London). Other plays include 10 OUT OF 12, THE INTERNATIONALIST, A DEVIL AT NOON, APPARITION, THE COMMUNIST DRACULA PAGEANT, I HAVE LOVED STRANGERS, THE LADIES, THE SMALL, and a transadaptation of Euripides' ORESTES. Awards include 2015 Whiting Award, 2015 PEN/Laura Pels International ... view full profile

Now Playing
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