Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Review

Oh, what a year it has been...


Now Comes the Night  (1 production - world premiere!)

Playwright EM Lewis and Director Alex Levy: Now Comes the Night 
world premiere at 1st Stage in Tysons, VA. 
For years, I've been thinking about continuing the journeys of some of the characters in my play Heads. This year, I finally had the chance when the new artistic director at 1st Stage in Tysons, Virginia, Alex Levy contacted me about premiering a play at his theater for the Womens Voices Theater Festival.

Samantha Macher with DC Metro Theater Arts said in her review, "Visceral, haunting, and beautifully executed, Now Comes the Night at 1st Stage is an excruciating and suspenseful look at lives of three journalists whose lives were ripped apart while covering the Iraq War. This world premiere play penned by Primus Prize winner EM Lewis, as a sequel to her award-winning work “Heads,”stands alone as an explosive examination of an endless and seemingly “bloodless” war and the role of the media in its portrayal. The show is a part of the incredible efforts of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival which seeks to highlight the scope of new plays being written by women, and the range of professional theater being produced in the nation’s capital."

She continues, " its heart, this is a play about the power of friendship. In every scene, the expressions of these character’s affections for one another is palpable. Each tries to get the other to overcome their demons, speak their truths, and finally feel safe after being in unspeakable peril. Through the piece, the characters are forced to grow, to change, and to be honest about the choices and shortcomings that brought them to the place they were today-- in the aftermath of a truly explosive television interview. 1st Stage Theater, and Director Alex Levy, maintained Lewis’ masterful levels of suspense through a winning combination of deft design and stunning performances.
Now Comes the Night - world premiere at 1st Stage in Tysons, VA: 
Jaysen Wright, Dylan Morrison Myers, Alex Levy, Sun King Davis, and EM Lewis. 
Big thanks to Alex, who was a joy to work with as I wrestled with this story, and who directed the heck out of it. Thanks also to our fabulous cast -- Dylan Morrison Myers, Jaysen Wright, and Sun King Davis -- and our designers and crew, and the producers of the Womens Voices Theater Festival! (Also, major thanks to Deborah Kahn and Harris Miller for hosting me while I was working on the play!) I'm looking forward to completing my Iraq War trilogy in the next year or two.

The Gun Show   (3 productions)

The year started with Moving Arts' production of  The Gun Show in Los Angeles extending its fall production (directed by Darin Anthony; starring Chuma Gault) into the new year.  Deborah Klugman, with the LA Weekly, said "The drama’s life-changing moments evoke a here-and-now immediacy, not easily forgotten." They took that production to Glendale College for a special performance -- thank you to producer Cece Tio, and Glendale College host Jeanette Farr-Harkins! Chuma was nominated for an Ovation Award for Best Solo Performer.

 Trent Blanton stars in The Gun Show by EM Lewis
at Passage Theater in Trenton, NJ.
I spent several weeks of January and February in Trenton, with the Passage Theater production of The Gun Show.  Bob Brown, from the Princeton Packet, had this to say: "At a time when many on the far left and far right claim to have the answers, Ms. Lewis’ play raises essential questions. Her play is a unique and gripping experience, masterfully directed by Damon Bonetti and thrillingly performed by Trent Blanton. See it and have your head turned around. Then tell your own gun story." Thank you to artistic director June Ballinger for bringing the play to her theater, and for putting me up for most of the time I was in New Jersey!  (Thanks to Ian August and Matt Campbell, who put me up for the rest of the time I was in New Jersey.  I think I still have a pair of your socks from when I forgot most of my clothes in June's dryer...)  The production was nominated for the Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award, which acknowledges a production that demonstrates the ability of theatre to illuminate the ways we live and interact with others as we seek to build community.

Josh Campbell included an excerpt from The Gun Show in a Protect MN Benefit in Minneapolis.   Cherry & Spoon reviewed the event:  "EM Lewis is one of those people who is in the middle - she grew up with guns in rural Oregon... but recognizes that there needs to be some changes in the way we think about, legislate, and handle guns.  The play is funny, honest, and thought-provoking."

Peter Townley in The Gun Show 
by EM Lewis at Impact Theater in Berkeley, CA.
Artistic Director Melissa Hillman helmed the fall production of The Gun Show at Impact Theater in Berkeley.  Sam Hurwitt, with the Mercury News, said, "Peter Townley gives a gripping performance as the voice of the author, beautifully capturing the gravity and humor, the sweetness and horror of the story...  Less than an hour long, it's a show that can't help but push some buttons and get people talking about things they disagree with or aspects they hadn't considered. That's the power of a narrative so emotionally intense and so personal: It helps put you in the shoes of people you might not have thought you'd identify with at all."

The year is ending with another production of The Gun Show (the show's fifth in less than two years), in the Tucson Solo Theater Festival, which my friend and colleague Monica Bauer is producing.  Maria Franco Caprile directs, and Clark Andreas Ray performs.

I'm in discussions regarding three more potential productions of The Gun Show across the country -- so stay tuned for the continuing adventures of this very small and very personal piece of my heart.

Heads   (2 productions)

Heads had two productions this year.  Both in New York City!  In January, Lewis Gould directed a beautiful production at Theater for the New City.  It featured my friend Robert Jordan, Carol Jacobanis, Gabriel Gutierrez, and Seamus Maynard. 

Heads at the Beckett Theater on Theater Row in New York City 2015.
Playwright EM Lewis and director Laura Savia!
In September, just as I was gearing up for the world premiere of Now Comes the Night in DC, I was able to see the second production -- produced by Sacred Heart University at the Beckett Theater on Theater Row. Broadway producer Jerry Goehring, the creator and Artistic Director of the Theatre Arts Program at SHU, selected my play. My friend Laura Savia directed, and our actors were David Dotterer, Kim Martin-Cotton, Jose Leon, and Michael Turner. The production allowed students at Sacred Heart University majoring in Theatre Arts to take part in all creative and technical areas, and to work with a professional director on staging the show in an Off-Broadway venue. Students took on all production positions including design, stage management, assistant direction, running crew, house crew, graphics, marketing, and social media.

True Story (1 production) 

Kevin Christopher Fox directed a production of my play True Story at the Theater School at DePaul University this fall.  I so wish I could have seen it!  I love this noir-ish, twisty little thriller.  This was the play's second production. 

Infinite Black Suitcase  (4 productions)

Infinite Black Suitcase was one of my very first full-length plays.  With a cast of fifteen (!!!), you would think that NOBODY would ever do it!  But after its initial productions at Moving Arts and TheSpyAnts in Los Angeles, it was published by Samuel French and has been finding a happy home at colleges and high schools across the country ever since.  It's kind of a rural Oregon Our Town, in a way -- about several families dealing with love and loss over the course of a single day.

The cast and crew of Infinite Black Suitcase
at Glendale College with playwright EM Lewis in 2015.
I was delighted when my friend and colleague Jeanette Farr-Harkins brought me to Glendale College for their production of the play.  It was a joy to meet director Ed Douglas and his cast and crew.  I had the most wonderful conversation with the students and audience after the show. 

The play also had productions this year at St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota, Marcus High School in Texas, and Lone Star College in Texas. 

Song of Extinction   (1 production)

Song of Extinction had a production at Totah Theater in Farmington, New Mexico this year.  I wasn't able to see it, but read a delightful article in the local newspaper about how the producers found the actor who portrayed my character Khim Phan.  I am so glad that this play is continuing to find good homes!

Song of Extinction also had a reading with Theatre 33 at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.  Willamette is where I earned my Bachelors Degree, and my old theater professor Christopher Harris directed my reading.  What a joy!  Coming home again. 


Finishing Magellanica!
In February, I finished a draft of my epic Antarctica play Magellanica.  After six years of research and writing!  A big thank you to everyone and every theater company who has supported my work on this grand adventure of a play.  I worked on it during my Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and my Inge Residency in Kansas.  I've had readings of various pieces of it at Moving Arts in Los Angeles, Playwrights Theater of New Jersey, Project Y and the Lark in New York City.  But it is Chicago director Kevin Christopher Fox who I have to thank for helping me get to the finish line.  He fell in love with the play when he read it, came down to Kansas to help me work on part 3, directed a workshop of parts 1-4 at TimeLine in December of last year, and then organized a writing retreat for him and I in February, where we holed up in blizzard conditions, drank a good bit of bourbon, and I brought these eight beloved characters of mine home at last.  (Thank you to Diane Ruzevich for the retreat house!) 

In theater, the end is just the beginning; now, the real work begins as I try to find a good home for this behemoth of mine.  But it feels quite wonderful to have birthed it, and to now enjoy the process of encouraging it up into its final form on a stage somewhere.  One bit of surprising support for the play has come already!  It received Honorable Mention on this year's Kilroy List, of the plays by women that theater folk most want to see produced.

Earth Duet in the Climate Change Theater Action

Earth Duet by EM Lewis - a short film produced by Pomona College
for the 2015 Climate Change Theater Action.
I wrote a short play called Earth Duet for a global event called the Climate Change Theater Action -- a series of worldwide readings and performances intended to bring awareness to, and foster discussion around, climate change in November and December 2015. This action was in support of the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) taking place November 30-December 11, 2015. A collection of more than forty plays, songs and poems by writers from all six livable continents, curated by Caridad Svich, Chantal Bilodeau and Elaine Avila, were made available to collaborators worldwide. More than 70 groups hosted events, ranging from informal readings in classrooms to day-long festivals, from radio programs and film adaptations to site-specific performances at the foot of glaciers. Earth Duet was performed in more than a dozen venues around the world, including:

COPout Event at Arts House in Melbourne

Costa Rica
Nature Acts! by Little Theater Group

Celebration of the Solstice by Teater Viva in Hjortshøj

Vihaan International Festival of the Arts in Bhopal

New Zealand
Massey University

United States of America
  • University of Connecticut in Connecticut
  • Faith and Climate Change Roundtable at Stony Brook University in New York
  • Notes from This Fragile Blue Place We Call Home by The Peoplehood in Los Angeles, California
  • Arizona State University in Arizona
  • Green Shorts: Films (Re) Imagining our Troubled World at Pomona College in California
  • BigFoot Theater Company in Albaquerque, New Mexico
  • DramaDogs in Santa Barbara, California
  • Western Washington University in Washington
  • Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia
  • Santa Cruz Climate Change Theater Action at Mountain Community Theater
  • Natural Acts in Lexington, Kentucky


Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant  (opera libretto)

Composer Evan Meier, librettist EM Lewis, and mentor Mark Campbell, workshopping Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant with American Lyric Theater.
Two years ago, I was accepted into American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program.  This rigorous year-long course, taught by working professionals, helps composers and librettists learn how to work together to create a new opera.  Artistic Director Larry Edelson has created an amazing program, and I will be forever grateful to him for letting me into it, and then allowing me to continue in the program for a second year.  He has been supporting and encouraging my composer partner, Evan Meier, and I as we develop our first full-length opera.  In the spring, we had a residency in New York, where we developed our idea for a family-friendly piece that would mash up the mystery and fairy tale worlds alongside our colleagues in the program.  During the summer, I wrote an 88-page libretto entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant!  In the fall, Evan and I had another residency, where we workshopped the libretto with a great group of singers and two of our mentor/teachers -- Mark Campbell and Cori Ellison.  We're hoping to be ready for a piano-vocal workshop in the fall.

The Crossing   (opera libretto)

I met composer Clarice Assad in American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program.  Over the summer, she and I worked on an opera piece inspired by real historical events for Arizona Opera Company's "Arizona Bold!" program.  We were semi-finalists with The Crossing, which dramatized the building of the Roosevelt Dam through letters between a local developer and President Theodore Roosevelt.


Acquired an agent!  --  So glad to be represented by Samara Harris Anderson at Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency!

Ashland New Plays Festival 2015 - JP, EM, and Artistic Director Kyle Haden.
Worked as host playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival  --  Our inspiring new artistic director, Kyle Haden, led this year's ANPF.  It was my sixth year as host playwright!  We had a fantastic bunch of plays by Meridith Friedman, Beth Kander, Skye Robinson Hillis, and Brian Mulholland.
ANPF 2015 - winning playwrights!
Responded to plays in the KCACTF Region 7 Festival and taught a workshop -- This was my second time responding to plays for one of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's regional events.  This one was held in Ellensburg, Washington.  I gave young playwrights feedback on their full-length, one-act, and ten-minute plays, and taught a workshop on "Writing History" to a room full of eager young writers.  Great fun!

Guest taught a playwriting class at University of Oregon


Innovation in Five Acts.
An essay I wrote about life, The Gun Show, and everything was included in an anthology called "Innovation in Five Acts."  Edited by Caridad Svich, and published by Theater Communications Group.  "In this edited collection, more than forty practitioners and scholars voice their whimsical, fiery, deeply impassioned, political, funny, sometimes elegiac and stinging words prompted by a call to write about 'artistic innovation.'  With intelligence, thoughtfulness, rigor and wit, author after author offer their considered take on the subject, unlocking new perspectives, unearthing old ones, and in general, doing what artists do best when they are walking on ground they trust and among colleagues who are not sitting before them in continual and sometimes stultifying judgment--and that is, open our eyes, hearts and minds again."

Articles and interviews!

Desa Philadelphia wrote a profile of me for the USC News Magazine.  Thanks, Desa!

Donna Hoke interviewed me for her "PLONY" series -- all about playwrights living outside New York.  Thanks, Donna!

Playwright EM Lewis driving tractor and picking grapes on the farm in Oregon.

What else?

Got reading glasses.  Started writing a new play.  Saw Hamilton at the Public before it transferred!  Started adapting one of my plays into a screenplay for an independent film production.  Had a fling/felt ridiculously heartbroken when it ended.  Picked myself up again.  Picked grapes.  Visited friends.  Planted and tended and cooked from a fantastic garden.  Spent time with my family here on the farm.  A little bit, anyway. 

It's been a roller coaster of a year.  I've worked harder than ever.  I wrote a ton.  I had a dozen productions of my full-length plays, including a world premiere.  I wrote my first opera libretto.  I taught a bit.  I travelled almost constantly, and slept in a bunch of people's guest rooms as I made theater across the country. 

I am lucky, people.  Who gets to do this???  It's a wonderful life, indeed.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Gun Show - The Next Part of the Story

I mostly write about professional events, productions, and upcoming projects in this blog.  But occasionally I use this space to write about things that happen at the intersection of the professional and the personal.  I've written several posts about my play "The Gun Show" -- which more than anything else I've written, falls into that category.


I've been thinking about writing a companion piece to "The Gun Show."  The idea has been in my head for a while... percolating in my subconscious, alongside several other play ideas.  I think there's something to it.  But the other day, as I chatted with my director friend Kevin Fox about possible projects we might work on during an upcoming writing retreat, I decided against working on "Gun Show, Part 2..." and felt a sudden and overwhelming sense of relief.  I didn't want to go to the sad place again.  Not right now, anyway.

I want to be happy.

It feels pretty amazing to write that silly little sentence.  But it's a testament to the profound effect that writing "The Gun Show" has had on my life that I *can* write it.  Because for the last twelve years, since my husband died -- since my husband killed himself -- I have understood that I don't deserve to be happy.

It isn't that I've been sad all this time.  Not exactly.  And I've been reasonably productive.  I'm a hard worker.  But any time something good happened -- a production or an award or a trip to some place pretty -- my inner voice would warn me against enjoying it too much.  My husband was dead.  I wasn't allowed.

It's been half a life, and I got tired of it.  I got tired of myself.

So I wrote "The Gun Show."  Which is a theater piece about guns and gun control in America, but one that had a role in helping me come to terms with my husband's death.  It was time for me to open up that box, and deal with what was inside it.  The play has had four productions in the last year and a half, and has three more in the works.  And as I come out the other side of the writing and performance of this play that is more than a play, I am beginning to realize how much I'd like to ditch my inner voice.  I'd like to stop checking myself every time something good happens.  I'd like to not be alone anymore.

I want to be happy.

And I guess that I'm maybe, finally, ready.

Now... to see if I can figure out how.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Busy Fall!

Hey, friends!  Hope you'll check out some of my fall events.

THE GUN SHOW - directed by Melissa Hillman​, now playing at Impact Theatre​ in Berkeley, CA.  Tickets here:

HEADS - directed by Laura Savia​, now playing at the Beckett Theatre​ on 42nd Street in New York City.  (Use discount code "TRCREATIVE" for $15 tickets here: )

NOW COMES THE NIGHT - directed by Alex Levy​, opening this weekend at 1st Stage​ in Tysons, VA as part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival​.  Tickets here:

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE FALLEN GIANT - American Lyric Theater​ Living Libretto event featuring this new opera in progress that I'm working on with composer Evan Meier will be at the National Opera Center on September 28th in New York City.

TRUE STORY - directed by Kevin Christopher Fox​, at The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, coming up in October.

ASHLAND NEW PLAYS FESTIVAL - I'll be acting as host playwright for the sixth year in a row at my beloved ANPF in Ashland, Oregon in October.

Go see a play!  (Or an opera!)

Friday, July 10, 2015

World Premiere of my New Play in DC!

Now Comes the Night by E. M. Lewis
will have its world premiere at 1st Stage this fall
as part of the Women's Voices Theatre Festival in DC.

I am delighted to announce that my new play "Now Comes the Night" will have its world premiere at 1st Stage this fall, as part of the Women's Voices Theatre Festival in Washington, DC.  I'm in DC now, working with my director/artistic director Alex Levy on the script and casting.

What's the play about?  American journalist Michael Après has been released after being held hostage for eighteen months in Iraq.  But Michael’s colleague has begun to suspect that he isn’t free yet. Secrets, lies, and betrayals haunt both men, as an explosive television interview puts their friendship to the test

(If you think this world sounds familiar... yes, this is a free-standing sequel to my Primus Prize winning play "Heads.")

For more about the festival, here's an article from Broadway World announcing that First Lady Michelle Obama has just signed on as honorary chair. Glad to be part of this giant city-wide celebration and performance of new work! Check out this line up of plays:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Congratulations to Protect MN - The Gun Show

Congratulations to Josh Campbell and the folks at Protect MN on their benefit on Monday night in Minneapolis! Josh used some excerpts from my play "The Gun Show," interspersed with music, for the event.

Cherry and Spoon had this to say: "Similar to the benefit I attended two years ago (I missed last year), the evening was structured as performances of songs from musical theater and pop culture, interspersed with relevant readings. The text this year came from a play called 'The Gun Show' by EM Lewis. The excerpts (read passionately and emotionally by Ann Michels, who didn't sing much because she's saving it for her other job) made me want to see the entire play. EM Lewis is one of those people who is in the middle - she grew up with guns in rural Oregon and still owns a gun, but recognizes that there needs to be some changes in the way we think about, legislate, and handle guns. The play is funny, honest, and thought-provoking."

If you're interested in bringing "The Gun Show" to your community, email me or my agent, Samara Harris Anderson. The play had great response at 16th Street Theater in Chicago, Moving Arts in Los Angeles, and Passage Theatre at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton. I'm actively seeking its next good home. Let's talk about this.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Excerpts from The Gun Show in MN

On Monday, June 29th, excerpts from "The Gun Show" will be read as part of a benefit for Protect MN in Minneapolis.

For more information about the event, visit their website:

Magellanica & the Kilroys!

"Magellanica" -- my recently completed Antarctic epic play -- is an honorable mention for this year's Kilroy List of great plays by women playwrights.  I'm so pleased!

View the 2015 Kilroy List of Honorable Mentions

If you'd like to read an excerpt from "Magellanica," or learn more about my work, please visit my page on the New Play Exchange by clicking here:

Visit The New Play Exchange

"THE LIST 2015 includes the results of the second annual industry survey of excellent new plays by female and trans playwrights.  It is a tool for producers committed to ending the systemic underrepresentation of female and trans playwrights in the American theater."

How The List Was Made 

  • They surveyed 321 influential new play leaders — Artistic Directors, Literary Managers, Professors, Producers, Directors, and Dramaturgs — who had read or seen at least 40 new plays in the past year
  • Each respondent recommended 3 to 5 plays each, identifying a total of 755 plays as among the best work they had encountered in the past year
  • THE LIST comprises the top 7% of those plays — the 53 most recommended plays from this survey, which each received between 4 and 20 nominations
  • The Honorable Mentions comprises the top 32% of nominated plays — these 186 plays each received 2 or 3 nominations
  • To ensure unbiased results, responses were anonymous. All identifying information of recommenders was tracked separately from their recommendations in the survey software
  • The members of The Kilroys did not nominate plays for The List

To be Eligible for The List, a Play Must be:

  • unproduced or have had only a single professional production
  • by an author who identifies as female or trans
  • among the most excellent seen or read by the industry professional within the previous twelve months and
  • not included on last year’s list of top 46 plays

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Proud to be represented!

I'm pleased to announce that I am now represented by Samara Harris Anderson at the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency.  I'm very glad to be working with her!

I have completed ten full-length plays, now -- including the award-winning "Song of Extinction," the intimate and topical "The Gun Show," and my hot off the press Antarctic epic, "Magellanica."  I have scads of short plays, which have been produced around the world.  And now I'm writing operas (with some fabulous composers).  It's great to have an ally as I work to find homes for all of them!

For more information about the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, click here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A reading of Song of Extinction close to home!

Save the date, Oregon friends!  At 2pm on Sunday, June 14th, there will be a reading of my play "Song of Extinction," produced by Theater 33 at my old alma mater, Willamette University.  My theater professor, Christopher Harris, whose class I LOVED, is directing.  I'm so pleased that this is happening!  (And to be in the same reading series as my friends and colleagues Aleks Merilo and Andrea Stolowitz is a special bonus.)

"Song of Extinction" is a play about a musically gifted boy who is falling off the edge of the world, and his biology teacher, who reaches out to try to help him.

It won the ATCA/Steinberg Award from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmidt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, the EcoDrama Festival at University of Oregon, the Ashland New Plays Festival, and was production of the year at the LA Weekly Awards.  The play is published by Samuel French.

I'd love to see you there!  Join us!  More details on the Theater 33 website.

Librettist EM Lewis and Composer Clarice Assad are Arizona Bold!

I am pleased to announce that composer Clarice Assad and I are semi-finalists for Arizona Opera's exciting new "Arizona Bold!" program, which is inspiring new operas about the history of the state.

Our project is entitled "The Crossing," and it's about the creation of the Roosevelt Dam.  With a diverse cast of stubborn desert farmers, Apache builders, Italian stone masons, the research for this one is proving to be great fun.  President Theodore Roosevelt is a major character!  Just wait until you hear what Clarice and I come up with.  This is a story about nothing less than Building America.  As with any history story, it's as much about what's happening now as about what was happening then.  Stay tuned!  We're working on this through the summer, and hope that our project will move forward in August, but the competition is fierce.

More information on the Arizona Bold project and the semi-finalists for it can be found here.

Infinite Black Suitcase goes to GCC (and so do I!)

The cast and crew of Infinite Black Suitcase at Glendale College 2015.  Playwright E. M. Lewis and director Ed Douglas are in the middle.
I just returned from a lovely trip to Los Angeles, where I saw Glendale College's production of Infinite Black Suitcase.  What a delight!  I haven't seen this one in a while, though it's being produced more and more frequently since Samuel French featured it in their online magazine.  The actors did a beautiful job, under the astute direction of Ed Douglas.  (Look at the size of that cast!  Fifteen!!)  Producer Jeanette Farr-Harkins moderated the post-show discussion with audience and students.  Congratulations to the cast and crew!

Monday, March 16, 2015

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Playwright/librettist E. M. Lewis

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Friday, March 13, 2015

More Opera, Coming Soon!

I'm pleased to be continuing my work in American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program.  My next project in the the music world is a family-friendly opera that I'm developing with composer Evan Meier.  Glad to be working with Evan again, with ALT again, and on something for young people.

I'll be back on the east coast for a week-long intensive with my talented colleagues in the CLDP in April.  If you'd like to get a sneak peek at our fairy-tale inspired projects-in-progress, I hope you'll join us for the Living Libretto: Once Upon A Time event at Opera America on April 11!

Click here for more information, and to buy your ticket!

Monday, March 2, 2015

In the USC News

Nice little article about my path to playwriting in the USC News Magazine this month, written by Desa Philadelphia.

Check it out by clicking here!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Great Review for NYC Production of "Heads!"

Great review of the February 2015 production of "Heads" at Theater for a New City in New York City!  So glad I was able to see the production when I was on the east coast.
"...this provocative and suspenseful play also offers audiences the opportunity to experience this issue through the eyes of an exceptional playwright."
"The cast of this production delivered their roles with emotional clarity and skill. Robert Jordan delivered a fine and moving performance as Harold, the American engineer. Carol Jacobanis did an excellent job as the British embassy worker whose life has been torn apart and who now has to live with the threat of torture or violence at any moment. Seamus Maynard’s portrayal of Michael, a network TV journalist, is also exceptional. Gabriel Gutierrez delivered the most powerful performance from this finely tuned ensemble as the freelance photographer. Director Lewis H. Gould also did a wonderful job bringing forth nuanced performances from his cast and avoiding melodramatic interpretations."
"Playwright E.M. Lewis has written a play that avoids portraying the political and the sensational aspects of a hostage crisis. “Heads” reveals the human and intimate emotional details of what may occur behind the closed doors of a terrorist prison. “Heads” is a play that deserves to be seen by larger audiences."
Click here to read the review in full.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE GUN SHOW NJ - 3 Feature Articles!

After an exciting world premiere production in Chicago over the summer and a sold out run of a second production in Los Angeles in the fall, THE GUN SHOW is having its third production in eight months right here in New Jersey.  This play -- which is about guns and gun control, and my own personal experiences with both -- is playing at Passage Theater in Trenton from January 22 - February 8.  It is directed by Damon Bonetti, and features Trent Blanton.  I will be there for all performances... so if you do come, please say hello!  

Details and ticket information can be found here:

And check out these three feature articles about the show.  (Beware of spoilers, though!  They got 'em.)

Feature article:  Finding Middle Ground

Feature article:  Ellen Lewis has a Gun Story

Feature article:  Gun Play Opens at Trenton's historic Mill Hill Playhouse

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Gun Show - Endings and Beginnings

I've never had a show close in one city and open in another on the same day.  But that's what's happening today.  "The Gun Show" is having its final performance at Moving Arts, in Los Angeles, this evening.  And it's opening night for the Passage Theater Production of "The Gun Show" in Trenton.

Beginnings and endings.

Endings and beginnings.

It couldn't be more appropriate, really.  Because this play is all about endings and beginnings.  Beginnings and endings.  I go back and forth on the order, in my head.  This play is a door, and... I think I get to decide which direction to go through it.

Ellen Lewis and Juan Francisco Villa, in the 16th Street production of "The Gun Show."

I started this play in the middle.  By which I mean Chicago.  But maybe I mean more kind of middle than just that.  (Everything is a metaphor today.)  It's a rather intimate and personal play, and when it premiered at 16th Street Theater, I was still, in many ways, figuring out what it wanted to be, and how to manifest it up on stage.  I was very lucky to have Kevin Fox dramaturging and directing and occasionally holding my hand and propping up his overwrought playwright (do they teach that in directing school?).  I was very lucky to have Juan Villa up on stage, telling my story with all of his skill and empathy and humor and charm.

Chuma Gault in the Moving Arts production of "The Gun Show."

When I went to Los Angeles, to work with director Darin Anthony, and actor Chuma Gault, and producer Cece Tio who were putting the play on stage at Moving Arts, I knew more about how the play worked.  But it is a city where some of the major action of "The Gun Show" took place.  It is a place where I lived for a long time -- first with my husband, then alone.  It is the place where I lost everything, and began again.  It is the place where I became a playwright.  It is a place where a lot of people know me, and it was difficult to tell people I know and love this story.  But I'm glad I did.  Thank you, Chuma, for bringing all your ferocity and grace to my gun show.

Trent Blanton in the Passage Theater production of "The Gun Show."

Some of the action of "The Gun Show" occurs in New Jersey and New York, too.  I lived here for three and a half years, and made strong and enduring friendships.  Passage Theater in Trenton premiered my play "True Story" last season, directed by Damon Bonetti, and it feels very right to now be working here, with Damon, on this play, which *is* a true story.  (Funny how that works.)  We've had two previews, and already it feels uncomfortably revealing to be sharing this story with people who I know and love.  (Why are strangers easier?  But they are.)  Edward Albee once said that theater should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  I've always liked that.  Playwright Robert O'Hara once remarked that he was trying to create theater where everyone was welcome and no one was safe.  I like that, too.  And the playwright herself shouldn't be exempt from being welcome and afflicted and unsafe and comforted.  So it's very right to be doing this play here, and now.  I'm feeling all of those things.  I'm also feeling grateful for yet another wonderful actor who has taken up this story and made it his own.  Thank you, Trent, for the fearlessness and vulnerability and intelligence that you are bringing to "The Gun Show."

Here I am, standing in the doorway.

Open the box, Ellen.

Light a match.  For light, not for burning.

Begin a conversation about this.

Choose the direction that is forward.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Starts Off with a Bang!

The new year is busy, busy, busy already!  It's so nice to be working. I have three shows up in January, and one in February, and I hope that you'll check them out if you are in the vicinity!  
The Gun Show/Los Angeles by EM Lewis extends its production run
into January at Moving Arts!

The Gun Show/Los Angeles: extended!  Jan. 17-24 at Moving Arts

The Moving Arts production of The Gun Show has extended, so you have three more chances to see it!  Directed by Darin Anthony. Featuring Chuma Gault.  Produced by Cece Tio. Congratulations to the Los Angeles team!
The Gun Show/Trenton by EM Lewis runs
from January 24-February 8 at Passage Theater.

The Gun Show/Trenton: Jan. 24 - Feb. 8 at Passage Theatre

I'm getting ready to spend a month on the east coast, where the Passage Theatre at the Mill Hill Playhouse production of The Gun Show in Trenton is going to be taking the stage. Directed by Damon Bonetti. Featuring Trent Blanton. Damon directed the world premiere of my play True Story at Passage in 2012, and I'm delighted to be working with him again, and with everyone at the playhouse!
Infinite Black Suitcase by EM Lewis will be playing at St. Louis Park High School
in Minnesota from January 16-18.

Infinite Black Suitcase/St. Louis Park High School:  Jan. 16-18

If you're in Minnesota, you can check out the St. Louis Park High School production of Infinite Black Suitcase. This is a high school production. Support kids making theater!
Heads by EM Lewis will be playing at Theater for the New City
in NYC from February 2-14.

Heads/Theater for a New City in NYC:  Feb. 2 - 14

My play Heads -- a hostage drama set during the early years of the Iraq War, winner of the Primus Prize from the American Theater Critics Association -- is going up in New York City.  Tickets will be available soon, so stay tuned for more information!

I'm packing my parka for NJ/NY -- and hope to see some of you when I'm out there, which will be from January 14 through February 9 or 10.  I'll be down in Trenton for the most part, with my production of The Gun Show, but will definitely try to take the train into New York City for a few days as well, and maybe down to Philly and DC for a couple days, too.  After New Jersey, I'm going to be in Chicago (or thereabouts) for a little writing retreat for a week or so.  And then I go to Ellensburg, Washington for a few days, to be a playwriting respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Region 7, and teach a playwriting workshop entitled "Writing Our Own History."  Back home to Oregon again after all that, I think!  Until the next thing comes along...

Happy new year, everybody!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 In Review - It was a very good year!

What a wonderful year it has been!  
I wasn't sure what impact moving back to the farm in Oregon would have on my playwriting career.  But 2014 was full of new creative partnerships, lots and lots of writing, and a nice batch of productions.
It's been a year of transition in more ways than just location.  I premiered the smallest and most personal play I've ever written ("The Gun Show"), made huge strides in my biggest play (the Antarctic epic, "Magellanica"), and wrote my first opera ("The Resurrection Engine," with composer Evan Meier).  
I feel like something is unlocking inside me right now, in some deep and fundamental way.  Writing "The Gun Show" (and being part of its production)... is letting me step out of a room I locked myself in quite a while ago.  It has been very hard.  There may have been an unseemly amount of crying involved in the eking out of those pages.  But I feel lighter now.  Like I've set down something very heavy.  And like I've stepped out of the darkness.  
Perhaps this is part of what allowed me to move forward on "Magellanica" -- an epic ecological drama, set at a research station in Antarctica in 1985 -- which I've been researching and working on for quite a while now.  I went from having part one and a little bit of part two at the beginning of this year, to having four of the projected five parts of the play drafted.  A nine-week residency and workshop at the William Inge Center for the Arts in the spring was a great help with that, as was an amazing workshop at TimeLine Theater in December.  But the biggest boon to this project has been my collaboration with Chicago director Kevin Christopher Fox.  It is wonderful to find a director who can work alongside you as a dramaturg as well as be successful in bringing productions of your plays to the stage.
My other new creative venture has brought with it another exciting creative collaboration.  I have been studying to be an opera librettist with American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program for the last year and a half, and have found that I absolutely love working with composers and telling stories with music.  I wrote my first opera this year -- a thirty minute gothic chamber opera called "The Resurrection Engine" -- with composer Evan Meier, and we are just beginning the process of writing a second piece together.  I'm very excited to see where this new venture leads me!  I recently watched the movie "Quartet," and in it, an opera singer tried to describe what opera is to a bunch of teenagers.  He told them that in opera, when someone stabs you in the back, instead of bleeding, you sing.  I look forward to letting my characters do more singing in 2015!
I'd like to give a big thank you to all the people I've been lucky enough to work with this year.  I'm a very lucky playwright. I love what I do -- and I get to do what I love. Thanks for being a part of my life and work, friends and colleagues!

Overview of 2014

"The Gun Show" premiered at 16th Street Theater in Chicago in July 2014.
Me and actor Juan Francisco Villa in "The Gun Show" at 16th Street Theater.
"The Gun Show" had its second production in Los Angeles in November, starring actor Chuma Gault.
"The Gun Show" premiered in Chicago, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox, and went on to a second production in Los Angeles, directed by Darin Anthony (with a third coming up shortly in Trenton, directed by Damon Bonetti and featuring Trent Blanton). 

"Reading to Vegetables" at University of Washington, directed by Tina Polzin.
"Reading to Vegetables" at Independence College, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox.
"Reading to Vegetables" premiered at University of Washington, directed by Tina Polzin.  Then the play went on to a second production at Independence College in Kansas, during my residency there, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox.
Working on "The Resurrection Engine" with composer Evan Meier.  The thirty minute Gothic chamber opera premiered at Symphony Space in New York City, produced by American Lyric Theater, where we've been studying.
"The Resurrection Engine" -- my first opera, written with composer Evan Meier in American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program -- premiered at Symphony Space in New York City. 
"Heads" at Pittsburgh Rep.
"Infinite Black Suitcase" was produced by Staples Players at Staples High School
in Westport, Connecticut, directed by David Roth.

"Dance Me to the End of Love" -- a bunch of my short plays, produced by the DramaDogs in Santa Barbara, CA.  Original music, played live!  Dancing!  And they did such a lovely job with my plays.
"Heads" was produced at Pittsburgh Rep, "Infinite Black Suitcase" was produced by Staples Players, and a bunch of my short plays was produced by the DramaDogs. 
Nine weeks in residence at the beautiful Inge House in Kansas with playwright Russell Davis!
I taught playwriting and worked on "Magellanica" during a nine-week residency at the William Inge Center for the Arts in the spring, had readings of the play at Moving Arts in Los Angeles and Project Y in NYC, and then had a tremendous ten-day workshop of the play at TimeLine in Chicago -- making fantastic progress on the play with their help. 
Me and my guys!  ANPF 2014 was wonderful again this year!  I love this festival with all my heart.
I was host playwright for the Ashland New Plays Festival in the fall. 
Samuel French, my publisher, featured "Infinite Black Suitcase" in their newsletter. 
I was a finalist for the Shakespeare's Sister Fellowship from A Room of Her Own Foundation.

Here in Oregon, I helped my Dad plant the garden in the spring, helped my brother harvest grapes in his vineyard in the fall, and took a wonderful (and much needed!) road trip down the California and Oregon coast in November.  This is such a beautiful state!
Goodbye, 2014!  Hello, 2015!