About Clare

 CLARE COSS is a playwright, librettist, and activist convinced that together we have it in our power to create a just and safe world. Born white in a racist world, I was impacted by the 1955 Emmett Till murder when I was a junior at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. The denial of the tragedy on the Jim Crow campus led to my becoming an activist.

Decades later I approached writing about Emmett Till through my conviction that this tragedy is shared, in the way the tragic history of this country is shared.  White people as perpetrators and witnesses of white supremacy have a stake in this story. 

I am drawn to characters who confront inaction and/or tyranny; face the challenge to speak and act.  Possibility, humor and a quest for generosity sustain my vision.  How do we see each other?  How can our work help to generate more love, justice, peace in the world?


  • Emmett, Down in My Heart in German: Emmett, Tief en meinem Herzen Label Noir Theatre, Berlin, Theatre on film, August/September 2021 
  • Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, Robey Theatre, L.A., CA, West Coast premiere, featured Ben Guillory and Melanie Cruz. 2017 
  • Emmett, Down in My Heart, Castillo Theatre, NYC, Director Erica Gould 2015 
  • Emmett, Down in My Heart, winner TADA! Play Contest, Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists, Tucson, AZ 2015 
  • Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington, New Federal Theatre in association with Castillo Theatre, NYC starring Kathleen Chalfant and Tim Simonson 2014 
  • String of Pearls, Provincetown Theatre Company, One-Act Play, 2001 Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, Published online: 21 October 2008 
  • Our Place in Time, Ten Scenes from the Twentieth Century, co-produced by  Women’s Project & Productions and New Federal Theatre.(Now titled Love and Defiance: Ten Scenes from the Twentieth Century) 2013 
  • The Blessing, American Place Theatre starring Anita Gillette and Kelly Bishop 1989 
  • Lillian Wald: At Home on Henry Street, New Federal Theatre, featured Tony Award winner Patricia Elliott, Feminist Press  (Lincoln Center Theatre on Film and Video Collection) 1986 
  • Growing Up Gothic, featured Crystal Field, George Bartenieff and Joyce Aaron, original sound score by Thiago de Mello, Theatre for the New City/Interart Theatre 1983
  • The Daughters Cycle: Daughters, Sister/Sister, Electra Speaks co-author with Segal and Sklar, five year residency Interart Theatre, (NEA, NYSCA, CAPS, Joint Foundation Support) 1977-1980
  • The Well of Living Waters, Old Testament Story Theatre, lyricist and co-author with Mel Spiegel, original score Thiago de Mello, Cathedral of St. John the Divine 1978
  • The Star Strangled Banner, “Brechtian-Marx Brothers,” the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1848, Berkshire Theatre Festival Barn, Playwright in Residence 1972
 “Lillian Wald” producer Woodie King, Jr. and Clare Coss at Gala Premiere.
“The Blessing” producer Wynn Handman and Clare Coss at the cast party
Robert Cooper, Chief of the Montaukett Tribe; Clare Coss; Blanche Wiesen Cook; and Lucius Ware, President of the NAACP Riverhead Branch


  • Lillian D.Wald: Progressive Activist (Feminist Press) which features the play and a selection of Wald’s correspondence and speeches. 1989
  • Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington, (Broadway Play Publishing). 2014
  • The Arc of Love, Anthology of Lesbian Love Poems ( Scribner),Lambda Literary Award Finalist. 1996

Clare Coss is a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, PEN, The Dramatists Guild, and the Columbia University Seminar on Women and Society. For eight years she served as Board Member for The Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation and enjoyed her ten year tenure as Poetry Editor for Affilia, a journal of women and social work.  She and Judith Arcana were co-poetry editors for the online magazine www.OntheIssues.com.  For forty years Clare Coss maintained her dual career as psychotherapist and writer.  She is grateful to her clients, for all the journeys in pursuit of a free mind.  

Clare studies the night sky, practices Tai Chi, and was born to swim.  She lives in New York City with her partner and co-conspirator biographer historian Blanche Wiesen Cook and the daily miracle of their extended family.

“Growing Up Gothic”, starring Crystal Field, George Bartenieff, Joyce Aaron. Photo: Donna Gray
Cast party for “The Blessing.” 1st row: Leila Boyd, director Roberta
Sklar, Anita Gillette, Kelly Bishop; 2nd row: Beth Fowler, Olga Merediz, Clare Coss.