Playwright Melody Bates

Necessary Exposure photo by Jody Christopherson-16

This portrait was on display at Dixon Place. It is part of Necessary Exposure’s 3rd installation which explores what it means to be writing for the theater as a woman at this moment in history.

Click below to listen to an excerpt of Melody’s play R&J&Z, read by; Melody Bates, Dave Bennett and Matt Hurley. Sound Design by Martha Goode.

“Shine a light, even in the darkest times.”


Melody Bates is a native Oregonian actress based in New York City. She began acting as a child, appearing in local plays and in a feature film that was shot in Oregon’s wine country. She fell for Shakespeare early—within a year of seeing The Taming of the Shrew at the Oregon Shakespeare festival, she was directing herself and her brothers and cousins in a midsummer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, staged on the fair shores of Odell Lake in the Cascades, costumes pulled from their grandma’s dress-up box, line prompts whispered from behind pine trees, the lake lapping at the edges of the play.

She is a versatile and talented actress who works in stage and film in a wide array of genres. She has won and been nominated for multiple New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role for her performance as “Dina” in J.Stephen Brantley’s Eightythree Down, directed by Daniel Talbott. Other nominations include Outstanding Revival of a Play for her play R & J & Z, and two nods for Outstanding Ensemble, one of which she won as part of the Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant companyShe appears regularly on the Metropolitan Opera stage, where she has played small acting roles in all of director Bartlett Sher’s Met productions, and has worked with other notable directors including Michael Grandage and Sir David McVicar. She has a longstanding relationship with Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House on Deer Isle, Maine, where her acting credits include Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Lisa), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania), Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night (Olivia/ Aguecheek). Melody also serves as part of the OHA Artistic Advisory Board. Her first full-length play, R & J & Z, was written for OHA as part of a two-year residency and premiered there in July 2014 to audience and critical raves. The Maine premiere was followed by a highly acclaimed sold-out run in April 2015 at New York City’s New Ohio Theatre.   

Film and TV credits include Naked/ Spurious (2016), Investigation Discovery’s I Am Homicide (2016), Occupy Elm Street (2015), Public Hearing (2012), Le Comte Ory Live in HD (2011), A Tree A Rock A Cloud (2016), The Deafening Silence of a Very Bright Light (2010), and the short horror spoof Have You Seen Tom (2010). Other theatre credits include John Jahnke’s Alas the Nymphs (BAM Next Wave); Mike Gorman’s If Colorado Had an Ocean, Biffin’ Mussels, The Poet and the Lumberjack, and How and Why I Robbed My First Cheese Store, and Andrei Serban’s Caucasian Chalk Circle (La MaMa E.T.C.); WaxFactory’s Blind.ness (PS 122 & Cankarjev Dom, Slovenia); Mac Wellman’s Obie-winning Jennie Richee (Chicago and NYC) and The Invention of Tragedy (Classic Stage Company); No Mother to Guide Her and Craft (Flea Theatre); Robert Woodruff’s Godard: distant and right (NYC and Paris). As a company member of Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, Melody has performed at the Cleveland Public Theatre, Boston’s A.R.T., Joe’s Pub and several other NYC theatres. Melody created the 4th-8th grade drama program at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, notably pioneering a year-long immersive Shakespeare collaboration project with middle school students which culminates in a full production of one of Shakespeare’s Plays. She lives in Brooklyn with her gifted husband and frequent creative partner David Bennett, and holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University.


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