EM Lewis – Playwright

Playwright EM Lewis (Tom Sanders Photography)

Playwright EM Lewis (Tom Sanders Photography)

E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, librettist, and teacher of playwriting.  She received the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama, and was a finalist for the 2014 Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship.  She received the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University in 2010-2011, and a fellowship from the New Jersey State Arts Commission in 2012.  

Lewis won the ATCA/Steinberg Award for her play “Song of Extinction,” which also received the Ted Schmitt Award for Outstanding Writing of a World Premiere Play from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.  She won the Primus Prize for her play “Heads.”  Her work has been produced around the world, and is published by Samuel French.

In 2014, Lewis premiered two new plays — “The Study (or Reading to Vegetables)” at University of Washington in Seattle, and “The Gun Show” at 16th Street Theater in Chicago.  “The Study” went on to a further production at Independence Community College, where Lewis spent nine weeks working on a new play and teaching during a residency at the William Inge Center for the Arts.  “The Gun Show” had its west coast premiere at Moving Arts in Los Angeles in November/December 2014 (extending into January 2015), and went on to a third production at Passage Theater in Trenton in January/February 2015.

Lewis wrote the libretto for her first opera last year, as a resident artist in American Lyric Theater’s 2013-2014 Composer Librettist Development Program; “The Resurrection Engine,” developed with composer Evan Meier, premiered at Symphony Space in New York City in June.  She and Evan have been invited to continue on with the program for two more years, and are now working on a new family-friendly opera together.

Other projects in 2014 included a week acting as host playwright and teaching a playwriting workshop for the Ashland New Plays Festival.  An evening of her short plays entitled “Dance Me to the End of Love” was produced by the DramaDogs in Santa Barbara, California.  Her plays were studied in theater classes at the University of Notre Dame and University of Arizona.  “Infinite Black Suitcase” was produced at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut.  She had readings of her epic work-in-progress “Magellanica” at Project Y in New York City, Moving Arts in Los Angeles, and the Inge Center in Kansas, and workshopped the play at TimeLine Theater in Chicago in December.

The new year 2015 is beginning with lots of new productions and projects.  “The Gun Show” had a production at Passage Theater in Trenton in January, and “Heads” had a production at Theater for a New City in NYC in February.  Lewis was a respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 7 in Ellensburg, Washington in February.  “Infinite Black Suitcase” has productions upcoming in California and Texas.  Lewis finished the epic play “Magellanica” that she’s been working on, and is looking forward to the next step in that play’s development. 

Lewis was born and raised in rural Oregon, lived in Los Angeles for quite a while, and then moved to New Jersey, after receiving a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University.  She recently returned to her family’s farm in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she continues to write full time, travel regularly with her theater work, teach occasionally, and drive tractor whenever she feels like it.

Now Playing and Upcoming in Fall 2015:

THE GUN SHOW – directed by Melissa Hillman, at Impact Theatre in Berkeley, CA. Tickets here: www.impacttheatre.com

HEADS – directed by Laura Savia, at the Beckett Theatre on 42nd Street in New York City. (Use discount code “TRCREATIVE” for $15 tickets here:  https://www.telechargeoffers.com/Off-Broadway/Heads/Overview )

NOW COMES THE NIGHT – World Premiere!  directed by Alex Levy, opening this weekend at 1st Stage in Tysons, VA as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Tickets here:  www.1ststagetysons.org

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE FALLEN GIANT – American Lyric Theater Living Libretto event featuring this new opera in progress will be at the National Opera Center on September 28th in New York City.  http://altnyc.org

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. www.ashlandnewplays.org

Recent productions

  • The world premiere of The Gun Show at 16th Street Theater in Chicago
  • The west coast premiere of The Gun Show at Moving Arts in Los Angeles
  • The east coast premiere of The Gun Show at Passage Theater in Trenton
  • Heads at Theater for a New City in NYC
  • Dance Me to the End of Love — an Evening of Short Plays by EM Lewis, produced by the DramaDogs in Santa Barbara, CA
  • The world premiere of True Story at Passage Theater in New Jersey
  • The world premiere of The Study (or Reading to Vegetables) at University of Washington in Seattle
  • The Study (or Reading to Vegetables) at Independence Community College in Kansas
  • Heads at Missouri Valley College, and at Pittsburgh Rep
  • Infinite Black Suitcase at University of Southern California, Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, and St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota
  • Infinite Black Suitcase at Glendale Community College in California and Marcus High School in Texas
  • The Study at Indian River College in Florida
    The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
-James Baldwin

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