Set in a chic loft on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Wilson’s electrifying play shows the tension that erupts when people from very different worlds collide. A penetrating exposition of four violently opposing characters who are scrambling to regain control over their lives.

Commissioned by the Circle Repertory Company, Burn This first appeared at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1987 to near-universal praise. Set in the bohemian art world of downtown New York, this vivid and challenging drama explores the spiritual and emotional isolation of Anna and Pale, two outcasts who meet in the wake of the accidental death by drowning of a mutual friend. Their determined struggle toward emotional honesty and liberation—by no means guar-anteed at the play’s ambiguous end—exemplifies the strength, humor, and complexity of all of Lanford Wilson’s work and confirms his standing as one of America’s greatest living playwrights.

“From his earliest plays to his latest, Burn This, Lanford Wilson has been firmly committed to the free expression of the individual spirit, no matter how noncon-formist or even prodigal that spirit may seem to be... In the sense that it deals with lonely and displaced characters, Burn This is in the Wilson tradition. Where it breaks dramatic ground for the author is in its passion ... Mr. Wilson exposes deep uncauterized emotional wounds-and offers no salve. His unlikely romantic couple come together at the end of the play, but it would be precipitous to think of it as a happy ending. The affair is a daring—and even questionable—step for the characters, Anna, a dancer-choreographer, and Pale, a wild man and certifiable outsider.”
Mel Gussow, The New York Times

Burn This is neither a straight play nor a gay one (or perhaps it’s the first play that’s truly both straight and gay), a comedy that laughs at its own tragic roots, a love story in which the lovers are scared to death of one another, a play about art in which the strongest sensibility belongs to a character who looks upon artists as frauds... The play has a voracious vitality and an almost manic determination to drive right into the highest voltage that life can register”
—Jack Kroll, Newsweek

The title of the play is drawn from a statement by one of the characters, a successful-yet-frustrated screenwriter, who asserts that the real artist must “make it personal, tell the truth, and then write, ‘Burn this’ on it.” The play juxtaposes relationships that derive from the head and those that derive from the gut , and it forces the characters to make a choice; it requires them to face stasis versus change, comfort versus passion; and whether or not a passion that opens up art, creativity, and terrible turbulence is a tenable place to live...