Mary Zimmerman is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Award").

She has earned national and international recognition in the form of numerous awards. Metamorphoses, for which she received the Tony Award for Best Direction, was developed at Northwestern University, where she is the chair of performance studies. She is also a member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company and is an Artistic Associate of the Goodman Theatre.

Other acclaimed works include Journey to the West, The Odyssey, The Arabian Nights, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and Eleven Rooms of Proust. She is the director and co-librettist of the 2002 opera Galileo Galilei, with music by Philip Glass, at the Goodman Theatre. At the Metropolitan Opera, she created new productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, Armida and Rusalka. Her interests lie in the adaptation of literary texts for performance, directing and devising theater.