BA '99 - Dramatic Writing, Literature, and History
Kristoffer's play about wrestling, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, won the 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. “I had grown up watching professional wrestling," he says, "and while it’s kind of silly and ridiculous, there’s also something else there.” He was inspired to tackle notions of race in his play partly to address the latent racism in the theater world. An artistic director once told him that the only way he could do two plays by black playwrights in one season was if one of them was a musical and the other was by August Wilson. “I realized that there is really no such thing as a small, throwaway comment when it comes to race,” says Kristoffer. His follow-up play, Welcome to Arroyo’s, tells the story of a brother and sister who live on the Lower East Side, where their mother owns a bodega. The play grew out of his master’s thesis at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which he attended after graduating from Gallatin.
When Kristoffer began to look at colleges, he visited NYU and went on the tour of Gallatin almost on a whim. “Once we saw the school and met a few inspiring students, I thought: This is where I’m going,” he says. At Gallatin, he worked closely with Professor David Moore and Professor Michael Dinwiddie. He initially thought he wanted to act, but a writing class with Professor Lenora Champagne convinced him to write. After a stint teaching in a Brooklyn high school, he turned to playwriting full time. Among his projects were a commission for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles called #therevolution, about social media and the role it can play in overthrowing and establishing government. “Two months after I finished writing the first draft all this turmoil in Egypt happened,” says Kristoffer.
In 2015, Kristoffer joined the Gallatin faculty to teach playwriting.