Riley Elton McCarthy (they/them)

is a nonbinary playwright, performer, producer and screenwriter spawned in Georgia, AKA the land where peaches grow freely and fiddle-playing devils roam, transplant of North Carolina, and is currently residing as a plant parent in Brooklyn. Riley writes a lot about plants, especially about climate change, environmentalism, and the treatment of Earth reflected in the psychology of how we humans treat one another. Riley's work tends to focus on the subversion of classic tropes through the lens of lesser-known genres, transgender representation, and underrepresented queer history. And of course, lots of plants. Plants are neat, okay?

Residencies include Chaos Collective, CPH HOTMeat, Elephant Room Productions EERS, Scawwy Howwow Theatre Works-in-Progress, The Bechdel Group Readings Series, and Art House Productions’ INKubator New Play Development program. Their work has subsequently been staged at The Tank, CPH Queer Theatre Festival, Bøssehuset, Folketeatret, Kulturhuset Indre By, House of International Theatre, Student Theatre at Marymount, Marymount Manhattan College, and The Hudson Guild Theater. They are a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, and are a proud parent to their dog and two cats. BA: Marymount Manhattan College.

galaxy riley-3.png

I write for people in the dark yearning for light, and people bathed in light being swallowed by the dark


I am a wanderluster, an adventurer, and an architect for the imagination. I never stay in one place for too long, I think there's too many stories in too many places for me to remain stagnant. 


I don't like to consider myself married to one particular genre. I am a chameleon writer. I cling to the canvasses of new ideas and, like a sponge, absorb new interests with gushing enthusiasm. Whatever captivates my attention is thrown the brunt of my passion. I believe in the power of a good story, one supported dramaturgically with a firm base in thorough research, and that there is power in truth and truth in history. I believe in creating space for my community, the trans community, to be seen in work that humanizes us for who we are.  I like to explore uncharted territory and raise a little joyful hell.

That being said, I gravitate strongly towards taking traditionally inaccessible genres of narratives to the queer community and bridging the gap to make such stories center our voices without the baiting or exploitation of our community. I love horror of all kinds, and queer dramas, but I also love to earn the audience's laughter and tears. I love telling stories about odd people in odd situations, and, even more importantly, reveal the humanity in all walks of life.


We could all use a little humanity.

A little kindness.

A little laughter.

...and yes, in the right context, tears. 

Let's raise some joyful hell together.

galaxy riley-2.png
Hi there, I'm-2.png