Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thinking about Opera...

My teachers at the American Lyric Theater Composer Librettist Development Program -- Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell -- shared the quote that is featured in this article with our class.  In it, Paul Auster talks about how opera came to have meaning for him.  Wonderful to read, as I'm figuring out what opera means to me.

So far, my homework assignments have included writing recitative with composer Kamala Sankorum and writing an aria with composer Evan Meier.  Next up… writing a quartet with composer Elizabeth Lim!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Car Plays Ride Again at the Without Walls Festival in San Diego

My short play "Drop Off Day" -- about a mom dropping her daughter off at college -- is part of Moving Arts' THE CAR PLAYS, which is now running in San Diego as part of the Without Walls Festival of site-specific work at La Jolla Playhouse.

The festival was featured in the New York Times today -- a nice (and surprising) bit of good press!

Drop-Off Day

Written by EM Lewis
Directed by Dana Harrel
Featuring Wendy Waddell as Barbara and Dana Lau as Soo Min

Monday, October 7, 2013

Infinite Black Suitcase at University of Southern California - October 31 - November 3, 2013

Infinite Black Suitcase - Written by EM Lewis, directed by Robert Bailey.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.  October 31 - November 3, 2013.

Infinite Black Suitcase

Written by EM Lewis
Directed by Robert Bailey

October 31 - November 3, 2013

McClintock Theater
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

An insightful and endearing examination of the lives of three Oregonian families as they attempt to deal with the trauma of death and dying as humanly and lovingly as possible.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Reading to Vegetables at University of Washington - Jan. 29 - Feb. 9

Reading to Vegetables

written by EM Lewis
directed by Tina Polzin

January 29 - February 9, 2014
Glen Hughes Penthouse Theater
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
The opportunity to bring a brand new play from page to stage is rare for student directors. With Reading to Vegetables, Tina Polzin, a student in our Professional Director Training Program (PDTP), will work directly with Portland-based playwright EM Lewis to create a Hitchcockian world of suspense on stage for the very first time. Inspired by Milgram’s famous “Obedience to Authority Studies” of the 1960s, this psychological thriller centers on a pre-med student, working as a research assistant, who poses as a coma victim. Her test subjects unwittingly share their secrets, and when a terrible accident occurs, the audience is left to decide who is responsible. The heightened stakes of this reality-based drama irrevocably lead to the question, “What would you do?”
A post-show talk will be held on Thursday, February 6.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Heads at The REP in Pittsburgh - Jan. 31 - Feb. 16

Heads, by EM Lewis - directed by John Shepard.  Pittsburgh Premiere at The REP.


Pittsburgh Premiere

Written by EM Lewis
Directed by John Shepard
Studio Theatre

Friday, Jan. 31 – Sunday, Feb. 16

An American engineer. A British embassy employee. A network journalist. And a freelance photographer. As hostages in a war zone, each responds to the unbearable situation differently, with stark reality and difficult choices. Heads is a heartwrenching story about finding hope and intimacy in an environment with seemingly no way out.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Finding (and Losing) a Theatrical Home in New Jersey

Jeremy Stoller asked me to contribute to the series on New Jersey theater he's curating for HowlRound, and I was glad to have the chance to share. I ♥ NJ! And appreciate the friendship, support, and community I found there.

Finding (and Losing) a Theatrical Home in New Jersey

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Artistic Innovation Essay

Caridad Svich curated a series of essays for the Theater Communication Group for the 2013 TCG National Conference.  She asked me to write about Artistic Innovation... and this is the essay I wrote.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The World Premiere of "True Story" will be at Passage Theater in NJ this Fall!

I'm so pleased that Passage Theater is going to be producing the world premiere of my new play "True Story" this fall.  I've been part of the Passage Play Lab since arriving in Princeton three years ago, and it's been a wonderful writing home for me, here in New Jersey.

"True Story" is about grieving mystery writer Hal Walker, who is hired to ghostwrite the "story of the century" -- the truth about what happened between Donnie Lawrence and his wife.  Donnie has been acquitted in a court of law -- but everyone believes he killed her.  And if he did, Hal begins to wonder where justice comes into it.

The production will be directed by Philadelphian Damon Bonetti.  Casting has already begun.

Watch this website for details!

"If I Did This" becomes "True Story" at the Arkansas New Play Festival

I try to calculate the experiences of my life in gifts and friends and opportunities.  The ten days I spent at the Arkansas New Play Festival was full of all three.

I met the Artistic Director of TheatreSquared, Bob Ford, and his Associate Artistic Director (and wife) Amy Herzberg a few months ago, when I was responding to student work at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region 6 Finals down in Shreveport, Louisiana.  They both teach at the University of Arkansas, in addition to running the theater and writing, directing, producing and acting in plays, and they were at the KCACTF event to support one of their students.  They invited me to share some of my work with them, which I did.  And soon after, Bob called to invite me to come down to Fayetteville and workshop my new play in the Arkansas New Play Festival.  The play will be having its premiere this fall, so the timing couldn't have been better -- I welcome the opportunity to take one more good look at the script before bringing it to the stage.  And y'all know I always like a theater adventure!

From June 6 - 16, I worked on "If I Did This" (now "True Story") in Fayetteville.  The TheatreSquared team took such good care of all of us!  Morgan Hicks picked me up at the airport, and she and I chattered all the way into town.  Then I had lunch and a fantastic, far-reaching dramaturgical conversation with Bob.  He'd just returned from workshopping his own play, "The Spiritualist," at New Harmony, so of course I wanted to hear about that.  He had read my play carefully, listened closely to my plans for revisions, and offered some wonderful suggestions and thoughts.  After lunch, he took me to Anne's house -- Anne is a wonderfully kind friend of the theater who was my host.  (I did a whole lot of rewriting in her lovely back yard, sitting under a tree, and in her kitchen.

Over the next few days, I met the rest of the ANPF participants.  The three other playwrights were local writer/teacher Les Wade (with his play "Raw Vision"), Susan Felder from Chicago ("Swimming with Van Gogh"), and Juan Francisco Villa from New York, now living in Chicago ("Don Chipotle").

Local Morgan Hicks directed Juan's piece, which was in the early stages of development -- about two boys and their poetic, dark journey through New York City on a Don Quixotesque quest.  Kevin Christopher Fox from Chicago directed Susan's play, about a painter trying to find her vision and inspiration again in mid-life.  Chicago director Andrea Dymond directed Les' play, which is about art and appropriation in rural Louisiana.  And I worked with New York director Shana Gold on my play, which is about a grieving mystery writer who grapples with issues of justice when he's hired to ghostwrite the story of an acquitted murderer who everyone thinks is guilty.

I loved working with Shana, and we had a fabulous cast, anchored by New York actor Sean Patrick Reilly, who played the lead, my troubled mystery writer, Hal Walker.

The entire company of writers, directors, actors and tech folk had dinner together every evening, at the theater.  The food was provided by the theater's board members and other supporters.  We had four hours of rehearsal every day, and when we weren't working together in the theater, we playwrights were writing and rewriting our plays.  The week culminated in readings of all of the plays, followed by discussion with the audience.

I emerged with a stronger draft of my play, a new title for my play, and a whole bunch of new friends.  I hope I get to work with Bob and Amy and their TheatreSquared family again soon.  They know how to foster and support the development of new work.
"True Story" by EM Lewis, directed by Shana Gold, at the 2013 Arkansas New Play Festival. 
The cast of "True Story" by EM Lewis at the 2013 Arkansas New Play Festival.  John T. Smith at Donnie Lawrence, Bryce Kemph as Brett Martin, Sean Patrick Reilly as Hal Walker, Kevin Christopher Fox as Hayden Quinn, and Alyx Claus as Miriam Lawrence.
Hal and Miriam.
Hal defends himself from Detective Hayden Quinn.
Afterwards, director Shana Gold and I had a conversation with the audience, moderated by Bob Ford.

"Reading to Vegetables" debuts at University of Washington in Seattle

Just after "True Story" premieres at Passage Theater in New Jersey, and simultaneous with The REP's production of "Heads" in Pittsburgh, my play "Reading to Vegetables" is going to have its debut at University of Washington in Seattle, directed by Tina Polzin.

I'm in excellent company in this season of plays, which includes one of my favorites -- "The Fifth of July" by Lanford Wilson.
  • “The Real Inspector Hound” by Tom Stoppard (Oct. 16-27), directed by Desdemona Chiang
  • “The Fifth of July” by Lanford Wilson (Nov. 13-24), directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
  • “Reading to Vegetables” by EM Lewis (Jan. 29-Feb. 9, 2014) directed by Tina Polzin
  • “Arabian Nights” by Mary Zimmerman (Feb. 26-March 9), directed by Leah Adcock-Starr
  • “The Beggar’s Opera” adapted by Vaclav Havel and translated by Paul Wilson (April 23-May 4), directed by R. Hamilton Wright
  • “The Workroom” by Jean-Claude Grumberg (May 28-June 8), directed by Mark Jenkins
A big thank you to Tina for taking this play on!  

"Reading to Vegetables" is about a pre-med college student who signs up for an internship at a local hospital for a summer job.  The psychological experiment she takes part in drags her deep into questions of morality and ethics she doesn't know how to answer.  The play is inspired, in part, by Stanley Milgram's "Obedience" experiments in the early 1960's.

Feature article in the Seattle Times about UW's upcoming season can be found here.

To visit the UW Drama Department webpage and buy tickets, go here.

A 5th Production for "Heads" -- at The REP in Pittsburgh

Robert A. Miller returns to The REP, Point Park University's professional theater company, as the school's Conservatory of Performing Arts Distinguished Master Artist-in-Residence for the 2013-14 season, to direct "All My Sons." The season-opening play by his father, Arthur Miller, launches four works at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland and includes a world premiere by award-winning Pittsburgh playwright Tammy Ryan and the Pittsburgh premiere of EM Lewis' "Heads." The season will conclude with Lynn Nottage's play "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark."
I'm delighted to be in such distinguished company in The REP's season (including that of my friend Tammy!), to be having my first production in Pittsburgh, and to have another production of "Heads." This play is about four civilian westerners who are taken hostage in the early days of the war in Iraq -- an American engineer, a British embassy worker, a journalist, and a photojournalist.

More information about this production from the Post-Gazette feature article can be found here.

Visit the Pittsburgh Playhouse website here for tickets.

Time Magazine mentions The Car Plays!

Time Magazine did a lovely feature on immersive theater, and mentioned Moving Arts' The Car Plays, created by Paul Stein and written, directed, acted and produced for the last six or seven years by our company in Los Angeles, at the Radar Festival, at festival in San Diego and Costa Mesa.  Such a delightful project!  Nice to get a mention in the national magazine.

Article can be found here.

The Rise and Fall of the English Major

An article in the New York Times caught my eye the other day.  Written by someone with the unlikely name of Verlyn Klinkenborg.

The Rise and Fall of the English Major

It was a timely article for me to encounter.  I was an English major.  Three years ago, I left my steady, practical day job in tech support, that I'd held for nine years, when I received a playwriting fellowship at Princeton University, and I have been happily, happily writing full time ever since.  But playwriting isn't quite paying the bills.  (It's paying -- just not enough.)  And I haven't been able to find another job.  I've decided to move back home to the farm in Oregon for a while, as I continue to write and continue my search for a fellowship, commission, or teaching job somewhere.


How do we study art and literature and philosophy when we aren't sure how we're going to keep a roof over our heads?  (Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from that psychology class.)  But I place such great value on my education.  I couldn't write the plays I've written, the plays that I'm writing now, without the broad scope of the liberal arts education I received.

My teachers gave me books to read that I've come to understand are the common language for interpreting our experience of being human.  They gave me the tools I needed to decipher the world I live in -- not just take it apart, but put it back together again with words and understanding.  The English classes, yes (because I love stories most of all), but also the science classes (scientific principle), the psychology classes, history, religion, languages, and even (yes, I'll admit it) math.  Who gave me these gifts?  Mom, who took us to the library in town, buying the $40 out-of-town country-bumpkin family card, though that was expensive for us then, because it was important.  Dad, who read The Hobbit and the entire Trilogy of the Ring out loud to me (with the voices!) and took me fishing with him in the woods.  Mrs. Berrum, who helped me write my first poem (when I was in 4th grade at Monitor Elementary School) and pinned it up on the board.  The nuns who taught bible stories and catechism to me on Wednesday evenings.  In high school...  Mr. Brueckner, who loved chemistry and storytelling in equal measure, and was kind of irresistible, even though I didn't like chemistry at all.  Mr. Clute, acting out Shakespeare scenes in the front of the class, making us work out poems together (the meaning of parts), and nudging us chapter by chapter though Moby Dick.  Dr. Reid (art history) and Mr. Mock (creative writing) and that really cute Italian guy whose name I don't remember (philosophy) at Chemeketa Community College.  Professors Lord and Bothun and Michel at Willamette University (English).  My writing teachers in the MPW program at USC -- Ben Masselink, Lee Wochner...

These people all affected my life and the lives of so many others with their generosity of spirit, intellectual rigor, and joy in what they were doing, that they weren't afraid to share.

In difficult times, our world contracts to the necessities.  Understandably.  Reasonably.  But we can't lose the things that make even the poorest life rich -- music and theater and books and art and philosophy and scientific inquiry and study of history and broad thinking -- because if we do, we might be losing just the tools that will help us find our way out of this woods again...

I don't know.  I'll report back if and when I make it out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Waiting for the Skell" goes to three summer festivals!

One of my new short plays is getting a lot of play this summer.  "Waiting for the Skell" is about a lesbian cop, Terry, and her straight male partner, Pete; on a stake-out, Terry tells Pete about something that is going to affect their relationship, and she's not sure how he's going to take it.

"Waiting for the Skell" is a sequel to my play "Partners," a short comic piece in which Terry brings her work partner, Pete, home to meet her life partner, Val.  "Partners" has been produced a number of times; "Waiting for the Skell" is pretty new, and just had its first production in the Briefs Festival in St. Louis.  (It was very cool, actually -- they did "Partners" in their festival in 2012, and then used the same director and cast when they did "Skell" in 2013.)

Now the play is headed to three new festivals -- Ringwald Theatre's Gay Play Festival in Detroit, Buffalo United Artists' BUA Takes Ten in Buffalo, and LGBTQ Shorts at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  BUA is actually doing *both* Partners and Skell, which is fun.  I'm sending my best wishes to all three productions, and hope they'll send me pictures of all the Terrys and all the Petes.  I love these characters!  They make me laugh.

June 22-24
Gay Play Festival
Ringwald Theater
Detroit, MI

June 22-July 13
BUA Takes Ten
Buffalo United Artists
Buffalo, NY

July 25-28
LGBTQ Shorts
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA

"If I Did This" goes to the Arkansas New Play Festival

From June 14-16, TheatreSquared in Fayetteville will be presenting four new full-length plays (and a number of other exciting events) in the 2013 Arkansas New Play Festival.  I'm delighted that I've been invited to take part with my play "If I Did This."  I'll actually be in the city for ten days -- working with a director and actors on my play, talking shop with my fellow playwrights and the theater-makers of Fayetteville, and exploring the city!

TheatreSquared presents

2013 Arkansas New Play Festival

at the Walton Arts Center's Nadine Baum Studios
Fayetteville, Arkansas
June 14-16, 2013

DON CHIPOTLE, by Juan Francisco Villa — Friday, June 14, 6:30pm
Two 11-year-old boys—a hero and his sidekick—set out on a quixotic quest through the streets of the Lower East Side to locate the missing Twin Towers. A raw, comic fable that draws on the Columbian-American experience in New York, this new play shines a bright light on social hypocrisies and the adventurous spirit of youth.

RAW VISION, by Les Wade — Friday, June 14, 8:30pm
An African-American brother and sister, both 30-something, live a ramshackle existence well off the grid in southern Louisiana. She is the brilliant, if deeply conflicted, caretaker of her artist brother, whose paintings have recently begun to turn up on the New Orleans art scene. When an outside interloper — who can't seem to keep his story straight — insinuates himself into their close-knit world, all three lives are changed forever. A gorgeously poetic drama, Raw Vision will remind many of the Oscar-nominated film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, in its heartfelt portrayal of a stubbornly offbeat way of life.

IF I DID THIS, by E.M. Lewis — Saturday, June 15, 6:30pm
A brainy, edge-of-your-seat thriller about a ghost writer, an acquitted murder suspect who is his subject, and the literary editor who may (or may not) be his best friend in the world. A brilliantly theatrical jigsaw puzzle, this play goes to the heart of the question, “What is truth?” — or maybe, “Whose ‘truth’ is really true?” Part film noir, part theatrical tease, If I Did This will toy with your perceptions and touch your heart.

SWIMMING WITH VAN GOGH, by Susan Felder — Saturday, June 15, 8:30pm
Set in a lighthouse just off the coast of Lake Superior, Swimming with Van Gogh tells the story of a middle-aged painter who stumbles into sudden prominence, only to come face-to-face with her own worst doubts—not to mention an old flame, a mid-career artist who knows just how to keep her off-balance. When an adoring young art student invades her lighthouse retreat, the chemistry becomes overpowering. This play takes a profound look at the possibility, and impossibility, of originality and renewal as an artist.

Special Performances:
ARKANSAS YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS SHOWCASE — Saturday, June 15, 2:00pmIn partnership with the University of Arkansas Brown Chair of Literacy, TheatreSquared is proud to present, for the fourth year, the Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase. Students from across the state have been invited to submit scripts, and six will be selected for public readings at the Arkansas New Play Festival.

THE 24-HOUR PLAY-OFF — Sunday, June 16, 6:30pm TheatreSquared is partnering with Fayetteville-based Ceramic Cow Productions to present the Northwest Arkansas 24-Hour Play-Off, a perennial favorite for artists and audiences alike. Teams of artists will write, rehearse, and perform a new ten-minute play, all within the space of 24 hours, in competition for a grand prize sponsored by local businesses.

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 31 - [Untitled] at Happy Ending Bar in NYC

On Friday, May 31st, I'll be participating in the [untitled] Summer Kick-Off, alongside David Lee White and Jihae Park!  [untitled] is a reading series curated and produced by Clare Drobot that occurs on every fifth Friday at Happy Ending bar (302 Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge) in New York City.  As she puts it:
[untitled] is dedicated to the start of things.  Those murky moments where a play, son, or story takes hold of you and says, "write me."  At each [untitled], Inkslingers takes over Happy Ending from 8-10pm and gives you an inside look at the creative process  Five artists will present their own work in their own voices.
I have a couple of new short plays I've been messing about with, and I think I'll be reading from one of those.  We'll see!  Still deciding.

Admission is free, but of course you are encouraged to buy a drink.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Page 73 Reading of "Song of Extinction" in NYC

I've loved being part of Page 73's Interstate 73 Playwriting Workshop this year, and am delighted that they are sponsoring a reading of my play "Song of Extinction."  We have an incredible director (Carolyn Cantor, who just directed "The Great God Pan" at Playwrights Horizons), and some fantastic actors, including Francis Jue as Khim Phan and Reed Birney as Ellery Forrestal.  Hope to see you there, friends!  Details below.

Join us for Page 73's first Interstate 73 reading of 2013!


Written by EM Lewis
Directed by Carolyn Cantor

Featuring Francis Jue as Khim Phan, Ephraim Birney as Max Forrestal, Reed Birney as Ellery Forrestal, Curzon Dobell as Gill Morris, Enid Graham as Lily Forrestal, and Jonathan Hova as Joshua Dorsey.

Wednesday, May 15th at 4pm
Roundabout Rehearsal Studio - 115 W. 45th Street, 12th Floor, New York City

In "Song of Extinction," Max, a musically gifted high school student, is falling off the edge of the world — and his biology teacher is the only one who’s noticed. A play about the science of life and loss, the relationships between fathers and sons, Cambodian fields, Bolivian rainforests and redemption.

Winner of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an Outstanding New Play from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

RSVP at www.page73.org/tickets

Saturday, May 11, 2013

"The Edge of Ross Island" at Mary Baldwin College

From May 8-11, "The Edge of Ross Island" was part of a student-directed one-act play festival at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.  The play is about a cop who tries to talk a jumper down from the Ross Island Bridge in Portland, Oregon, but later finds herself understanding his lostness all too well.  

I'm glad to be having so many college productions lately!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Magellanica" monologues in the Drew University Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

And now, for something completely different!  

On April 13, I worked with Sloane Drayson-Knigge and a wonderful little cohort of actors to present monologues from my play "Magellanica" to the philosophers who were attending the Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism at Drew University.  I visited Sloane's "Women in Theater" class at Drew last year, as well as an undergraduate theater class.  This was a different kettle of fish, but very enjoyable, always, to work with actors on characters and voice and help them more fully inhabit the lives they are living on stage.  They did a great job.  I think the philosophers liked it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Guest teaching at CUNY Hostos College

CUNY Hostos theater professor Angel Morales directed a production of "Song of Extinction"at the college last year.  I was able to meet him, his actors, his colleagues and his audience through a series of events planned around my play being named Book-of-the-Semester, and was very impressed with him. So when he asked me to come and guest teach a playwriting unit to his theater class in April, I was glad to do it.  I talked with his students about how a playwright begins to think about how to write a play -- about goals and obstacles, characters, a sense of place, and story structure.  It was a lovely morning!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Gun Show in NYC on March 12

We have a gun problem in America.  The problem is, we really, really like them.


A new one-man show written by EM Lewis
Directed by Pete BoisvertPerformed by Christopher Yustin

Everyone has guns in rural Oregon, where I grew up.  But somewhere between there and here and then and now, my feelings on the subject have grown complicated.  This is a show about guns and gun control -- Dirty Harry, Trayvon Martin, the NRA, Columbine, Tarentino, Sandy Hook.  This is a show about my own experiences with guns.  Can we let go of our firearms?  Do we want to?
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 7pm 

Emerging Artists Theater 
One Man Talking * New Works Series 

At TADA! Theater in NYC
15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor

Tickets $10

Running time:  40 minutes.  

Followed by THE MOMENT (20 minutes) by Lavinia Roberts, 
and a short conversation with the writers, directors and performers.

Emerging Artists Theatre (EAT) New Work Series is a three-week developmental festival that provides artists of different disciplines the opportunity to present one night of a “work in progress” with audience feedback. Successful Fringe, NYMF, and Off-Broadway shows have been born out of this festival, and Emerging Artists is excited to present a new round of opportunity to local artists for the 9th year in a row. 

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Unexpected Adventure - Responding to Student Work at KCACTF Region 6

I had an unexpected adventure at the end of February.  I received an inquiry from a colleague, asking if I might be interested in responding to student work at the Region 6 finals of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Shreveport, Louisiana.  I said heck, yeah!  And off I went to see plays, analyze plays, talk about plays, teach a workshop about writing plays, and eat a heck of a lot of gumbo.  It was fabulous!

I'd heard of KCACTF.  It's a nationwide competition that honors college theater student's work in all categories, from acting to directing, writing, and design.  Several of my friends who teach bring students to the competitions regularly.  I was honored to be a respondent for the playwriting students.  There was so much smart, funny, fabulous writing!  And I love having the chance to support young playwrights in their journey.  People have been so kind to me along the way.
With Jim and Billy at the closing gala.  (They both had the flu at this point, though, poor fellas.)
When I arrived in Shreveport, I went to work almost immediately, shaking hands with the head of the playwriting group, David Blakely, and his second in command, Jim Tyler Anderson, and with my fellow respondents, Guillermo (Billy) de Leon and David Moberg, and then walking straight into the room to listen to the first one-act play we would be critiquing.  Luckily, our little team worked very well together, and I think we gave the student playwrights in all categories -- ten minute plays, one acts, and full-lengths -- good feedback throughout the week.
Sharing food and stories with Heather Helinski, who was running the dramaturgy unit at KCACTF Region 6.
The week was chock full of work and fun, as we responded to plays, watched the mainstage shows (two per day), taught workshops, and talked shop.  Region 6 is comprised of six of the southern central states, but there were theater professors and professionals from all over the country participating.  The food was fantastic.  I'd never been to Louisiana before, and found the gumbo to be exquisite.  I was also able to see Harold Hynick, from Missouri Valley College, and some of his student actors and designers who had worked on the production of "Heads" in the fall, which was lovely.  The actors presented a scene from the play in front of the entire festival, and the designer won an award for her work!  I saw Mark Charney there, who I'd met at the Great Plains Theater Conference.  And I made some new friends -- including dramaturg Heather Helinski.

I hope that I'll be able to be a respondent again next year!

With Sam and Tommy, who played Caroline and Harold in the Missouri Valley College production of "Heads."  We had a lovely talk about the play, and their plans for after school.
Me and designer Katie Combs, who won an award for her work on my play "Heads" in the Missouri Valley College theater production in fall of 2012, at KCACTF Region 6.

"Waiting for the Skell" in the 2013 Briefs Festival in St. Louis

Have you ever had characters who wouldn't stop talking to you?  Terry and Pete are like that.  They crack me up.

"Waiting for the Skell" by EM Lewis, directed by Bonnie Taylor for the 2013 Briefs Festival in St. Louis. 
Robert Lee Davis and Wendy Renee Greenwood as cops on a stake out in "Waiting for the Skell," written by EM Lewis and directed by Bonnie Black Taylor
I created Terry and Pete a few years ago for a comic ten-minute play called "Partners," about a lesbian cop who was bringing her work partner -- a gruff, funny, un-PC guy -- home to meet her life partner -- a smart, sassy, strong-minded woman who was none too happy to have to share. It's become one of my most frequently produced ten minute plays, and was done as part of the Briefs Festival in St. Louis last year -- a festival of short plays on LGBT themes, produced by That Uppity Theater Company, in association with Vital Voice Media.

Well, when the fabulous Joan Lipkin, who runs TUTC, called and asked if I had any short plays to submit this year, it spurred me to polish up the next installment in Terry and Pete's partnership -- a stake-out story, called "Waiting for the Skell." In a move that absolutely delighted me, Joan brought back our director (Bonnie Taylor) and cast (Robert Lee David and Wendy Renee Greenwood) from last year. I so wish I could have been there to see it!
KDHX: "In “Waiting for the Skell,” two police officers, one gay, one straight, share an easy companionship and comfortable openness with each other that brought tears to my eyes during the final moments. The bond these actors created in this short play was convincing and effective."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Drop-Off Day in The Car Plays at the Off-Center Festival

DJ Harner and Mia Danelle in "Drop-Off Day" by EM Lewis, directed by Michael Shutt.  The Car Plays, produced by Moving Arts for the Off-Center Festival at Segerstrom Center.
Once again, I had a play in Moving Arts' The Car Plays -- this time, it was "Drop-Off Day" in the Off-Center Festival at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa. I love The Car Plays, which have become Moving Arts' signature event and an annual tradition. Car plays are so much fun to write!

"Drop-Off Day" is about a mom who has just moved her daughter into her dorm room for the daughter's first year of college -- but saying goodbye isn't easy for either of them, when all they have is each other. The Orange County Register called the play "poignant;"-- "its depiction of a mother and daughter struggling with a fundamental change in their relationship was quietly touching and completely believable." That was very much thanks to stellar performances by DJ Harner and Mia Danelle, and direction by Michael Shutt.

For more information about the Car Plays in the 2013 Off-Center Festival, click here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Higher" and "War Story" in the NJ OMPF

On January 19 and 20, I had to be (had to be?!) in Santa Barbara for PlayFest.  But two of my one-minute plays were being done back in New Jersey at Passage Theater in Trenton, home to the 2013 NJ One Minute Play Festival.  A celebration of theater and community, the one minute plays were submitted by writers from all over the state, and directed and acted by local talent.  It was a great challenge to write these short plays -- like writing haiku.  Wish I could have been there!

"War Story" is about a couple soldiers who are caught in a no-win situation.  

"Higher" is about a couple who is weathering a storm, and figuring out what matters most to them as the water rises.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pictures from PlayFest Santa Barbara!

I had a wonderful time at PlayFest Santa Barbara in January.  The inaugural festival included plays by me (If I Did This) and Catherine Butterfield (It Has to Be You), as well as a host of other events.  I taught a playwriting workshop to a room full of eager students, young and old.  And I even took a little time out from rehearsals to walk on the beach in the bright, warm, southern California sunshine.  Beautiful!!  Many thanks to the event's producers R. Michael Gros, Jeffrey Meek, and Amanda Kramer, to my hosts (who allowed me to stay in their lovely guest cottage), and to my cast.

Talkback after the reading of "If I Did This" at PlayFest Santa Barbara with director and actors.
In rehearsal for "If I Did This" with director R. Michael Gros.   
With two of my actors from the reading of "If I Did This."
Teaching a playwriting workshop at PlayFest Santa Barbara, to Santa Barbara City College theater students as well as members of the community.
Teaching playwriting fun (and fundamentals) at PlayFest Santa Barbara. 
With the indefatigable Amanda Kramer!  Associate producer extraordinaire!
Go to Santa Barbara in January for a theater festival?  Well, you might have to twist my arm a little...
The Santa Barbara waterfront is a five minute walk from campus.  So pretty! 
Happy playwright at PlayFest Santa Barbara!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"If I Did This" at PlayFest Santa Barbara!

The new year is starting out with a wonderful invitation to sunny Santa Barbara!  I hope that some of you will be able to attend this event.

The co-artistic directors of the brand new PlayFest Santa Barbara -- Michael Gros and Jeffrey Meek -- have decided to include a reading of my new play "If I Did This" in their festival.  Michael will be directing.

"If I Did This" synopsis:
A grieving mystery writer is hired to ghostwrite the "story of the century" -- but finds himself becoming part of the story instead.

January 18 and 19, 2013

The Garvin Theater
Santa Barbara City College's West Campus
721 Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara, CA

The Garvin Theater, where most of the festival events will take place, is located on the beautiful Santa Barbara City College Campus, overlooking the gorgeous Santa Barbara harbor.

According to the PlayFest website:
PlayFest Santa Barbara stages professional theater readings and workshops, and promotes original new plays, musicals, new translations and adaptations of classics by emerging and established writers.  We provide theater lovers with the opportunity to attend performances, lectures, interviews, and master classes with some of the world's leading artists.  PlayFest Santa Barbara takes place in the city of Santa Barbara, California -- known as the "American Riviera."

Jan. 18

8pm - Reading of "If I Did This" by EM Lewis

Jan. 19
10am - "Bringing Words to Life in a Body-Centered Way" workshop with Drama Dogs
1pm - "A-5678! -- A Musical Review"
3pm - "Commedia dell Arte" lecture and demonstration with John Achorn
4:30pm - "Playwriting Fun (and Fundamentals)" workshop with EM Lewis
8pm - Reading of "It Has to Be You" by Catherine Butterfield

You can find more information about PlayFest Santa Barbara and get your tickets on their website:

Friday, January 4, 2013

Playwrights Theater of New Jersey's 2013 Emerging Women Playwrights Project

I'm very glad to have been accepted into Playwrights Theater of New Jersey's 2013 Emerging Women Playwrights Project, alongside Claire Porter and Yasmine Rana.

PTNJ is a fantastic New Jersey theater that produces and supports the development of new work year round, through a wide variety of programs.  I'm pleased that Artistic Director John Pietrowski invited me to be part of this particular initiative, which will allow the three of us playwrights to work on our new plays and support each other through out the year as we do so.

I'll be continuing my work on "Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World."

Click here for more about PTNJ's EWPP!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Page 73's 2013 Interstate 73 Playwriting Workshop

Founded in 1997, Page 73 Productions has made a name for itself as a home for the development and production of new work by early-career playwrights.  I'm proud to have been selected to participate in Page 73's 2013 Interstate 73 Playwriting Workshop in New York City.

Playwrights in the group meet at the Page 73 offices twice a month to discuss and work on their new plays. At a playwright’s request, the writer receives a public or closed reading of a play.

The 2013 I-73 members are Stephen Brown, Meghan Deans, Peter Gil-Sheridan, David Jenkins, Kait Kerrigan, EM Lewis, and Caroline V. McGraw.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 In Review

What a wonderful year 2012 has been!  Full of theatrical adventures, productions and good friends.  Thank you to everyone I've had the pleasure of working with this year.  I hope we can do it again soon!

It's been a lovely year!  Thanks, everybody!
Recipients of fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in 2012.
I received a $10,000 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in January 2012.  Because of this fellowship (which followed the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University that I received for the 2010-2011 academic year), I've been able to write full-time again this year.  The direct result of that opportunity to concentrate on my writing has been that this was my busiest year EVER -- in terms of both writing and productions.  

Productions and Readings
Moving Arts' The Car Plays at Segerstrom.
Warren, Daria and Peter -- very cozy in the front seat!
January 14-21
"Bohemian. Like You." in Moving Arts' production of The Car Plays in the Off-Center Festival at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  Directed by Darin Anthony.  Featuring Peter James Smith, Daria Balling and Warren Davis.
Costa Mesa, CA

A great weekend of table work on this new play -- a murder mystery, of sorts.
Followed by the reading of an excerpt.
February 10-12
Workshop, and reading of an excerpt from new full-length play "If I Did This" at Passage Theater.  Directed by David Hilder.  Featuring Chad Hoepner, Kathryn Markey, David Crommett, Brielle Silvestri, and Nedra McClyde.
Trenton, NJ.  

Linny, played by Michael Zlotnik.
February 22-March 4
"Reveille" in Moving Arts' production of The Car Plays in the Without Walls Festival at the La Jolla Playhouse.  Directed by Sam Woodhouse.  Featuring Will Tulin and Michael Zlotnik.
San Diego, CA

Terry is caught in the middle in "Partners."
February 24-26
"Partners" in the Briefs Festival, produced by That Uppity Theater Company and Vital Voice Media.  Directed by Bonnie Taylor.  Featuring Wendy Renee Greenwood, Robert Lee Davis III, and Elizabeth Graveman.
St. Louis, MO

Riffing on Asimov and Occupy for Flux Theater Ensemble's "ForePlay: Human 2.0.
April 2
"I, Human" in Flux Theater Ensemble's ForePlay: Human 2.0
New York, NY

April 18
"If I Did This" reading at NewShoe
New York, NY

"Apple Season" in the Six Women Playwriting Festival.
So glad to be in the festival with my pals Babs Lindsay and Maureen Brady Johnson!
April 20-22
"Apple Season" in Six Women Playwriting Festival.  Directed by Birgitta de Pree.  Featuring Joye Levy and Anthony Archer. 
Colorado Springs, CO

May 16
Reading of "Heads" at Theatre Seven of Chicago
Chicago, IL

July 27
Staged reading of "If I Did This" at Judson Memorial Church, produced by Flux Theater Ensemble
New York, NY.  Directed by Pete Boisvert.  Featuring Matt Archambault, John Greenleaf, Marianne Miller, Stephen Conrad Moore, and Jane Lincoln Taylor.

July 28-August 4
"The Incident Report" in Jersey Voices at Chatham Community Players
Chatham, NJ

World Premiere of "Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday" at HotCity Theater in St. Louis, MO.
Kelly and Lynn.
Ray and Lynne.
The family.
September 7-22
The World Premiere of "Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday" at HotCity Theater.  Directed by Bill Whitaker.  Featuring Nicole Angeli, Charlie Barron, Peggy Billo, Joe Hanrahan, Rusty Gunther, and Eric White.
St. Louis, MO
"Four words: Go see this play!  'Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday' is the best play I have seen in a long time..." -Laura Hamlett, Playback: STL 
"...a funny and touching slice of life...  Director Bill Whitaker does nice work here, bringing this new play to life and gently guiding this exceptional cast.  The laughs and the tears are honest... HotCity Theatre's production of 'Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday' is entertaining and moving theater..."  -Chris Gibson, Broadway World 
"...the look and tenor of a domestic comedy layered on top of the emotional mysteries and unspoken threats of a Harold Pinter drama..."  -Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 
"...an examination of one woman's desperation filtered through the prism of her life as it is, the way it was, and the hope of finding what's missing... a comedy, and a good one... remarkable cast..."  -Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX

"Apple Season."
Director Jeff Meek with the cast of "Apple Season" -- Rebecca Staab and John Walcutt.
September 29
"Apple Season" at the PlayFest Santa Barbara FunRaiser.  Directed by Jeffrey Meek.  Featuring Rebecca Staab and John Walcutt.
Santa Barbara, CA

Always a pleasure to work with my pal David Hilder!
October 2
Reading of "Heads" at West Windsor Arts Council, produced by NOW Theater Company.  Directed by David Hilder.  Featuring Chris Coucill, Thia Stephan, Christian Conn, and Eric Rolland.
West Windsor, NJ

Jack and Michael.
Harold and Caroline.
October 3-6
"Heads," produced by Missouri Valley College.  Directed by Harold Hynick.  Featuring Thomas Waller, Samantha Hill, Matthew Ford, and Joshua Tag.
Marshall, MO

The Last Four Things My Father Held Against Me. 
Six Bottles of Heineken After the Silverado.
And All the Roses Falling.
So many actors they don't even fit in the picture!
"Infinite Black Suitcase" at Colony High School in Ontario, CA.
October 24 - November 12
"Infinite Black Suitcase" at Colony High School.  Directed by Arik Boles.  First high school production of this play!
Ontario, CA

November 2 - 10
"An Evening of One-Acts by E.M. Lewis" at Everett and Sexton High Schools
Lansing, MI

Max and Ellery.  "Song of Extinction" at Hostos College.
November 8-15
"Song of Extinction" at CUNY: Hostos College.  Also Book-of-the-Semester!  Directed by Angel Morales.  Featuring Abe Rasheed, Arnold Kim, Carlos Molina, Anna Savant, and Cesar Acuria.
South Bronx, NY

November 25
"Back to the Dollhouse" (a one-act adaptation) at ISOProductions
London, England

Trevor Tucker is lost in time, exploring the history of Westfield, NJ!
A family-friendly history play, written for Premiere Stages' new "Liberty Live" program.
December 7-9
"Talking to Westfield" - the inaugural Liberty Live commission - Premiere Stages.  Directed by John Wooten, dramaturged by Clare Drobot.
Union, NJ

Other Activities
"Infinite Black Suitcase" by EM Lewis, published by Samuel French.
Publication of "Infinite Black Suitcase" by Samuel French
New York, NY

Publication of "This Isn't About Love" in Eleven Eleven Literary Journal at California College of the Arts
San Francisco, CA

What a wonderful group of young playwrights!  It was a gift to have the opportunity
to work with them for the two weeks of the "New Voices for the Theater" residency.
June 23-July 8
Playwright-in-Residence at "New Voices for the Theater" at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC).  Taught fundamentals of playwriting to eight teen playwrights, and mentored them as they rewrote their plays in preparation for performance.  This is a fantastic program, run by the indefatigable, absolutely fantastic Laine Satterfield.  A big thank you to Babs Lindsay, last year's PIR, for recommending me!  It was a joy.
Richmond, VA
"This was truly a priceless experience and I'm so happy I got to participate this year.  I met so many people and learned about different theaters.  This was one of the best things I've ever done and I will remember this experience forever."  -2012 Playwright Michael Musatow 
"Having been able to see my play performed, and hearing the reaction of the audience, was amazing.  This program has made me want to write more, to write every day, and to succeed.  This program changed my life."  -2012 Playwright Annalee Marguerite Week 
"The program's greatest overall strengths were the choices in playwrights, directors and actors.  The original play the cast received and what we performed was entirely different, but different in a better way.  Seeing how the play transformed and being able to watch it while working with great fellow actors and an awesome director, it allowed me to see how SPARC takes New Voices in an extremely serious way and that it works."  -2012 Actor Sarah Lundberg
So glad to be back as the Host Playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival 2012!
The four winning playwrights of ANPF 2012!
October 24-28
Host Playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival
Welcomed the four winnning playwrights, conducted talk-backs, and taught a playwriting workshop.  This was my third year as ANPF host playwright.
Ashland, OR

With director Angel Morales and Book-of-the-Semester coordinator Robert Cohen.  It was such a pleasure to get to know them and their students at Hostos College!  I was able to participate in a post-show discussion, as well as in two panel discussions over the course of the semester.
September - December
"Song of Extinction" - Book of the Semester at Hostos College
My play was read by more than a thousand students, faculty and staff in all departments at Hostos College while it was book of the semester.  Activities included panel discussions and presentations by the History, Theater, Music, Biology and English departments.  I participated in several of these events!
South Bronx, NY

Finalist for Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship
I'm very proud to have been named a finalist for this fellowship.  The Page 73 group provides wonderful support each year to playwrights, and have fostered the careers of some amazing people!
New York, NY

Participated in the Passage Theater Play Lab
Trenton, NJ

Participated in Flux Theater Ensemble's "Flux Sundays"
New York, NY

Became the Dramatists Guild Representative for the state of New Jersey, and wrote reports from our state's theater scene for each issue of "The Dramatist."  It's a pleasure to serve my guild, and to get to know my fellow Garden State playwrights and theaters a little better in the process!


This year was really amazing -- full of productions of my plays, and opportunities to travel to Colorado Springs, St. Louis, Richmond, Ashland and New York City to participate in performance, development and teaching opportunities.  But it was a great year for writing as well!  Some particular projects I was able to focus on include the following:

If I Did This
I was able to complete a draft of this new full-length play this year.  It is a murder mystery of sorts, about questions of culpability and narrative voice.  I workshopped it at Passage Theater in Trenton, and had a very successful staged reading of the play by Flux Theater Ensemble at Judson Memorial Theater in Trenton.  (Thank you to directors David Hilder and Pete Boisvert!)  I'm still exploring and editing the play, but have begun to send it out.

Talking to Westfield
I was commissioned by Premiere Stages in Union, NJ to write a family-friendly play about the history of Westfield.  It was the first in what they hope to be an annual program called "Liberty Live" -- where New Jersey playwrights will explore the history of various cities and towns throughout the state.  Our original November performance dates were changed because of the hurricane, but we were able to go up in December.

Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World
I made great strides on this large-scale play-in-progress this year.  It is about eight scientists and engineers who winter over at the South Pole Research Station in Antarctica in 1985.  Part one is finished, and part two is nearly done.  I will be continuing work on this epic project in 2013 as part of the Playwrights Theater of New Jersey Emerging Women Playwrights Project and also in Page 73's Interstate 73 Playwriting Workshops in New York City.

Apple Season
I don't usually find cause to expand a ten-minute play, but Apple Season is proving to be an exception to that rule.  I wrote it initially for Theatricum Botanicum's "Seedling" program in Topanga Canyon, CA -- they prompted a handful of writers with whom they'd worked before to write a short play for them on the theme of "backyard fruit."  I ended up writing a dark little play about a woman who returns to her family farm in Oregon after her parents' death, and and old friend who wants to buy the place from her.  It was read at TB, and had its first production this year at the Six Women Playwriting Festival.  It went over like gangbusters -- but everyone wanted more.  So I've been working to turn it into a full-length, two-character play. The long version is set to have its first reading in January at a festival, so stay tuned!

Back to the Dollhouse and Playwriting Teachers Manual
My work with the SPARC: New Voices for the Theater program in Richmond during the summer led to two exciting projects this fall.  SPARC liked the curriculum I used during my time as their playwright-in-residence, and paid me to write a Teachers Manual that they could distribute to Virginia high school teachers whose students are the constituency for New Voices.  I'm very proud of both the curriculum and the manual!  We hope it will help generate more plays for this wonderful, long-running program.  A director/teacher friend of the program, Keri Wormald, then hired me to write a one-act adaptation of her new full-length play that could be performed by a group called ISO Productions in London, with whom her Richmond high school theater class trades performance projects.  My play "Back to the Dollhouse" was performed in November, and we hope that it will have a continued life!

Bohemian Like You - film script
This ten-minute play has had multiple productions in Moving Arts' "The Car Plays" in Los Angeles.  I am now working with a friend to turn this short play into a short film, adapted by me and directed by him.

Short Plays
I wrote a new short play called "I, Human" for Flux Theater Ensemble's "ForePlay" event in the spring, in which they ask writers to create new plays that riff on the themes of their mainstage show.  My play connected the work of Isaac Asimov with the Occupy Movement to talk about morality in robots... and people.

I wrote "Waiting for the Skell" -- a short, comic sequel to my short play "Partners" -- about two cops.  It is going to be performed in the Briefs Festival in St. Louis in March 2013. 

I wrote two one-minute plays for the upcoming New Jersey One Minute Play Festival, which will be held at Passage Theater in Trenton in January.  "War Story" and "Higher" will both be performed, along with scads of other really, really short plays by some of my NJ playwriting colleagues.  Should be tons of fun.

Here's to more fun and more plays in 2013!  Happy new year!