EM Lewis

EM Lewis is an award-winning playwright. She’s from Oregon, spent quite a few years in Los Angeles, and now lives and writes in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been produced around the world (including productions at the Guthrie and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and published by Samuel French.

Lewis received a 2012 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the 2010-2011 Hodder Fellow in Playwriting at Princeton University. She won the 2009 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for her play Song of Extinction and the 2008 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman theater artist for Heads, both from the American Theater Critics Association.

In 2012, Lewis taught and mentored young playwrights in the New Voices Program in Richmond, Virginia and reprised her role as host playwright at the Ashland New Plays Festival. She had college productions of her plays Song of Extinction and Heads. She received her first commission, to write a history play for Premiere Stages in New Jersey. She finished a new play called If I Did This (semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award), that was workshopped at Passage Theater and received a staged reading from Flux Theater Ensemble in New York City. And her play Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday had its world premiere at HotCity Theater in St. Louis in September.

Lewis is now working on an intimate two-hander set in her home state of Oregon, and an epic play set in Antarctica called Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World.

Productions and Publications

Full Length

Flux Theater Ensemble, NYC – Staged reading
Passage Theater, Trenton, NJ – Workshop

Moving Arts at [Inside] the Ford, as part of the LA County Arts Commission’s Winter Partnership Program, Los Angeles, CA – 2008 World Premiere

2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland

2011 Ion Theater in San Diego

2011 The Guthrie in Minneapolis (produced by Theater Latte Da)

2012 Hostos College in NYC Finalist

2008 Sundance Institute Theater Lab

HotCity Greenhouse Festival Readings

2010 TimeLine Theater’s “TimePieces” Play Reading Series in Chicago

Briccolage Theater, Pittsburgh

Atlantic Theater’s 2008 Next Page Reading Series in NYC

NYU’s 2008 hotINK International Festival of New Plays, NYC

Living Room Series at the Blank and Moving Arts, Los Angeles

Dramatics Magazine, January 2010 issue; Samuel French Winner – 2009

Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award

American Theater Critics Association, 2009

EcoDrama Festival – University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

2008 Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play

Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, 2008 Production of the Year

The LA Weekly Awards, 2008 Ashland New Plays Festival

2012 Missouri Valley College

2009 Halcyon Theater’s Alcyone Festival, Chicago, IL

2009 “And Toto Too” Theater, Denver, CO

2007 The Blank Theater, Hollywood, CA – world premiere

2008 Francesca Primus Prize from the ATCA

Coe College’s 2007 “New Works for the Stage” Competition Semi-finalist

2007 Julie Harris Award

O’Neill Playwrights Conference Readings: 2007 Chicago Her-Rah! Theater Festival

Great Plains Theater Conference

Kingfisher Cafe Reading Series at the Academy Theater, Georgia

NYU’s hotINK International Festival of New Plays (sponsored by Atlantic Theater)

The Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series

Boomerang Theater’s “First Flight” series

ALAP New Works Lab at Pacific Resident Theater

2012 HotCity, St. Louise, MO – world premiere

2011 HotCity Greenhouse Festival, St. Louise MO – finalist

2007 Lillian Theater (produced by TheSpyAnts), Hollywood, CA – world premiere

2005 Moving Arts, Los Angeles, CA – workshop production

2011 – Samuel French

2006 – Hinton Battle Theatre Lab “Diverse Voices” – Finalist

2006 – O’Neill Playwrights Conference – Semi-finalist

One Act and 10-Minute Plays (selected)

The War Museum and I, Human — Flux Theater Company’s ForePlay Series — New York, NY

Apple Season — 6 Women Playwriting Festival — Colorado Springs, CO

The Incident Report – Finalist, Samuel French OOB Festival — New York, NY

The Edge of Ross Island – Winner, UMBC IN10 Competition — University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The Last Four Things My Father Held Against Me – Winner Fire Rose Productions 10-Minute Play Fest

Sing Me That Leonard Cohen Song Again—American Globe Festival — New York, NY

Lend Me a Mentor—Missed Opportunity Productions in Shanghai, China; Asphalt Jungle in Ontario, Canada; National Arts Festival, South Africa; Fire Rose Productions in North Hollywood, CA

Reveille, Leonard’s Voice, Bohemian Like You — “The Car Plays,” produced by Moving Arts — Los Angeles, CA


2012 Fellowship in Playwriting from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Winner

2011 HotCity Greenhouse Festival for Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday — St. Louis, MO

2011 — Residency at the Inge Center for the Arts with Magellanica — Independence, KS

2010-2011 Hodder Fellowship in Playwriting at Princeton University — Princeton, NJ

Summer 2010 — Wrote “Stranger Things” film script for Hayhouse Publishing Company’s “Tales of Everyday Magic.” Winner

2009 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award — American Theater Critics Association Winner

2008 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman theater artist — American Theater Critics Association Finalist

2007 Sherwood Award (through the Center Theater Group, for emerging artists of promise in Los Angeles, CA) Quarterfinalist – Blood Memory (screenplay)

2004 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting – Hollywood, CA

2004 Winner, Alliance of LA Playwrights Monologue Slam at Dramapalooza, finalist 2006

West Hollywood, CA Sunspinner Literary Magazine – Co-editor and co-founder

Project Description and Goals

In 1985, an international group of scientists travel to Antarctica to find out if there really is a hole in the sky. During the eight and a half months that they spend locked in together at the South Pole research station, they work and study and love and fight… and try to figure out the life-changing implications of their discoveries.

Magellanica is a fictional account of a very real moment in history, when the existence of a hole in the ozone layer became the subject of international debate. At the center of the story, a Russian climatologist and an American climatologist are forced to set aside their countries’ Cold War hostilities and work together to figure out what is happening. But there is more at stake than that. An African American engineer must leave behind the ghosts that followed him home from the Vietnam War in order to become a real leader to this expedition. A young Chinese-American physicist loses her way in the wake of two losses, and finds her calling. A British glaciologist finds alarming data on glacier melt and reveals long-hidden secrets about himself. A jack of all trades becomes an indispensible part of the team. A Norwegian ornithologist turns his careful gaze on the people around him. And a Bulgarian cartographer steps into the undiscovered country in order to draw his new and accurate map of the world. All of the eight scientists and engineers begin to learn, in this small, cold crucible, how much they depend upon each other for their very survival.

This play is epic in both scope and scale. It reaches back to the heroic early Antarctic explorers, and forward to the issue of climate change that we are grappling with today. It wrestles with our historic western acts of Empire building and “manifest destiny,” and our current need to create real global partnerships that are fair and balanced.

Magellanica is about how capable we are of creating a healthier, more peaceful, harmonious global community — while recognizing how challenging it can be. It celebrates scientific endeavor. It demands that we set aside political differences to work for the common good. It is determinedly diverse — a representation of our world in these eight men and women that celebrates their unique perspectives, languages, and cultures. It is big and bold and theatrical. I can’t wait to find a good home for it!

My goals when I was in the program were to continue to develop this epic piece.  And I did!  Now… several years later… I have a complete draft of this 250 page, 5 part epic.  Please let John know that I’d be glad to share it with him.  I love it — and now am looking for a place to workshop it.