Deborah Ann Percy's Bio : The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre

Deborah Ann Percy

Debby Johnston headshot


Deborah Ann Percy, born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, earned the MFA in Creative Writing at Western Michigan University. She writes and publishes fiction, drama, non-fiction, and translations. A chapbook of her short fiction, Cool Front: Stories from Lake Michigan, appeared in 2010 from March Street Press; her full-length collection, Invisible Traffic, was published in fall 2014 by One Wet Shoe Press. She has recently completed a short novel "Sex Always Matters "and a new collection of short fiction "Stepping Off into Space; she is currently completing the draft of a new short novel, A Second Opinion. Her plays, including the full-length serious comedy Dream Time (a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist) and those written in collaboration with her husband, Arnold Johnston, have won over 100 productions and over 80 readings nationwide; their many awards and distinctions include the Sunset Center Festival of Firsts, the Dogwood and Market House national one-act contests, and the Writer's Digest Playwriting Competition. Debby was principal of Maple Street Magnet School, a Center for the Arts, in the Kalamazoo Public Schools from 1997 until 2007. She won a major Middle Start grant from the Kellogg Foundation and a Federal grant to establish the Maple Street program. Her work for KPS was recognized with a KPS Medallion of Excellence. In 2007 she retired to devote herself full-time to writing. She has taught creative writing for Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community College. Winner of major playwriting grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and the Gilmore Foundation, she was named as a 1999 recipient of Kalamazoo's Community Medal of the Arts, and she and her husband were 2016 recipients of the Larkin H. Noble Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. Debby is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Literary Translators Association, and has been a resident playwright with AAI Productions (NYC) and Kalamazoo's Actors and Playwrights Initiative (API).

Commissioned by API, Debby and Arnie's full-length play Traveling to Tulum had its highly successful world premiere production at Kalamazoo's Epic Center in March-April 2000. Since 2003 twenty-five of their radio dramas have been broadcast on NPR-affiliate WMUK-FM as part of the Kalamazoo Arts Council's All Ears Theatre series. Debby and Arnie's translations (in collaboration with Romanian writer Dona Ro u) include three long one-acts by Romanian playwright Hristache Popescu: Night of the Passions, Sons of Cain (Editura HP, Bucharest, 1999), and Epilogue (HP Publishing, Bucharest, 2011). Their published plays include Rasputin in New York (Editura HP, 1999), Beyond Sex (HP Publishing, 2011), and Radiation: A Month of Sun-Days (HP Publishing, 2016), with Romanian editions translated by Ro u and Luciana Costea; and Rumpelstiltskin: the True Hero (Eldridge Publishing, Tallahassee, 2013). Rasputin in New York was produced to critical acclaim in 1999 by the Whole Art Theatre at Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Lake Auditorium and by Love Creek Productions at New York City's Theatre Row Studios. In 2004 their full-length play Small Slam "part of a "Detroit trilogy" that includes Beyond Sex and the award-winning The Zamboni Situation "received a New York staging by Developing Act Theatre Company and, in revised form, a reading at the Kalamazoo Civic's Suzanne D. Parish Theatre. Their edited anthology The Art of the One-Act (New Issues Press) appeared in 2007. Duets: Love is Strange, a collection of their one-act plays, was published in 2008 by March Street Press. From 2009 until 2012 they were collaborating Arts & Entertainment columnists for the prize-winning national quarterly Phi Kappa Phi Forum.

They have recently completed several projects: a full-length translation/adaptation for the stage of E. T. A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker; a historical drama, Out in the Forty-Five, about Scotland's Jacobite Rebellion (produced in 2009 by Love Creek); and a musical, Summers on the Seine, with book by Debby and Arnie and lyrics translated by Arnie to jazz arrangements of songs by Gabriel Faure. A CD of the Faure songs, By the Riverbank, appeared in 2011, with vocals by well-known Chicago cabaret performers. Debby and Arnie's audience-interactive holiday show, The Night Before Christmas, completed on commission from the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, premiered in December 2012. Steering into the Skid, their short play about Alzheimer's, took the $1,500 first prize in MemoryCare's 2013 one-act competition, and appears in The MemoryCare Plays, an IPPY-award-winning anthology distributed royalty-free to Alzheimer's facilities across the United States. Their full-length play, Giving up the Ghosts, had its very successful premiere in October 2013 at Kalamazoo's New Vic Theatre. Their Radiation: 33 Days of Waiting, a long one-act focusing on cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, received staged readings in October 2014 by Farmers Alley Theatre under the sponsorship of the West Michigan Cancer Center and is slated for production in October 2017 by the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre.