Nocturne A Play

Adam Rapp

Faber & Faber



Trade Paperback

96 Pages



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Finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

"Fifteen years ago I killed my sister." So begins Adam Rapp's highly acclaimed play Nocturne, in which a thirty-two-year-old former piano prodigy recounts the tragic events that tore his family apart. With a keen eye for human relationships and a deft ear for language, Rapp explores the aftershock of this unimaginable event. The father is so incapable of forgiveness he puts a gun in his son's mouth; the mother so shattered, she deserts the family and eventually loses her sanity altogether; the son—only seventeen years old at the time—sets out for New York City. There, he seeks an uneasy refuge in books and reinvents himself as a writer. Across the decade and a half that follows he tries to cope with the ramifications of his own anguish and estrangement while making a desperate search for redemption. A devastating, elegant, and gripping dissection of the American dream, Nocturne signals a brave new voice in American theater.


Praise for Nocturne

"A startling, unnverving work of art that fiercely pushes the boundaries of theater . . . Rapp is an original—a distinctive voice . . . Nocturne will haunt you for a long time."—Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

"A brilliant, terrifying, perceptive, occasionally funny play . . . bold, daring and successful."—Donald Lyons, New York Post

"Adam Rapp's Nocturne is remarkable enough to bear comparisons with Margaret Edson's award-winning Wit . . . Here [is] a playwright . . . to watch with keen interest."—Markland Taylor, Variety

"Nothing can nullify the horror contained within this play's opening sentence: 'Fifteen years ago I killed my sister' . . . Rapp, winner of many awards for his plays and young adult novels, has created a poignant and sensitive play about lost lives."—Bob Ivey, University of Memphis, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

IFifteen years ago I killed my sister. 
I said it. 
I can change the order of the words. My sister I killed fifteen years ago. I, fifteen years ago, killed my sister. Sister my killed I years ago fifteen. 
I can cite various definitions. To deprive of life: The farmer killed the rabid dog. To put an end to: The umpire killed the tennis match. To mark for omission: He killed the paragraph. To destroy the vital essential quality of: The dentist killed the nerve with Novocain. To cause to stop: The bus driver killed the engine. To cause extreme pain
Read the full excerpt


  • Adam Rapp

  • Adam Rapp is the author of numerous plays and young adult novels. He lives in New York City.
  • Adam Rapp art by George O'Connor