E. M. Lewis

Librettist Playwright Lyricist

E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, teacher, and opera librettist.  Her work has been produced around the world, and published by Samuel French.  Lewis received the Steinberg Award for Song of Extinction and the Primus Prize for Heads from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmitt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for outstanding writing of a world premiere play, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a playwriting fellowship from the New Jersey State Arts Commission, the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama, and an Edgerton Award.  Her epic Antarctic play Magellanica is a finalist for the Angus Bowmer Award for Drama from the Oregon Book Awards.  Plays by Lewis include: Apple Season (currently receiving an NNPN rolling world premiere at New Jersey Rep, Riverside Theater in Iowa, and Moving Arts in Los Angeles), Infinite Black Suitcase, The Gun Show (which has had more than thirty productions across the country, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland), Reading to Vegetables, True Story, You Can See All the Stars (a play for college students commissioned by the Kennedy Center), and How the Light Gets In (a semi-finalist for the O’Neill which will premiere at Boston Court Pasadena this fall).  Operas by Lewis include Town Hall (with composer Theo Popov), commissioned by the Maryland Opera Studio and produced there and at Willamette University, and Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant (with composer Evan Meier) which was commissioned by American Lyric Theater.  Lewis is currently working on a big, new political play called The Great Divide.  She is a proud member of LineStorm Playwrights, Opera America, and the Dramatists Guild.  She lives on her family’s farm in Oregon.



E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, teacher, and opera librettist. Her work has been produced around the world, and published by Samuel French.


Finalist for the Angus Bowmer Award from the Oregon Book Awards (Magellanica) - Literary Arts
Edgerton Award (Magellanica) – Theater Communications Group
Steinberg Award (Song of Extinction) – Armerican Theater Critics Association
Primus Prize (Heads) – American Theater Critics Association
Ted Schmitt Award for outstanding writing of a world premiere play (Song of Extinction) – Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle
L.A. Weekly Award for Production of the Year (Song of Extinction)
Hodder Fellowship – Princeton University
Playwriting Fellowship – New Jersey State Arts Commission
2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama
Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship (finalist)

Plays by E. M. Lewis have been produced across the country and around the world, from the Guthrie in Minneapolis to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Her short plays have been included in several anthologies, and she’s written twice for international Climate Change Theater Actions. Infinite Black Suitcase, Song of Extinction, and The Gun Show are published by Samuel French.

Lewis’ plays range from the intimate and personal to intense, epic, and socio-political. Edward Albee called her Iraq war play Heads “provocative and wonderfully threatening” when he responded to it at the Great Plains Theater Conference.  Song of Extinction was described as “a mesmerizing tale that gently plucks on the universal chords of the human condition” in its Los Angeles debut, and “a touching triumph” when it was at the Guthrie. The Gun Show has had more than thirty productions across the country, engaging audiences with the question of guns and gun control in America. The world premiere of Magellanica at Artists Rep was written up in The New Yorker, for its bold exploration of climate change.

Many theater companies and organizations have supported and encouraged Lewis in her work, including: The Lark, Page 73, Project Y, Ashland New Plays Festival, Arkansas New Play Festival, PlayFest Santa Barbara, EcoDrama Festival, the HotCity Greenhouse Festival, Great Plains Theater Conference, Last Frontier Theater Conference, The William Inge Center for the Arts, Artists Repertory Theater, TimeLine Theater, Playwrights Theater of New Jersey, Theatre Latte Da, Moving Arts, Passage Theater, 16th Street Theater. She was a finalist for the Sundance Theater Lab, and a semi- finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference.

Full-Length Plays by E. M. Lewis

Apple Season
Infinite Black Suitcase
Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
The Great Divide
The Gun Show
How the Light Gets In
Now Comes the Night
Reading to Vegetables
Song of Extinction
True Story
You Can See All the Stars

Lewis was accepted into American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program in 2013. Since completing her training there, she wrote Town Hall with composer Theo Popov, a new opera commissioned by the University of Maryland Opera Studio which premiered in February of 2018. It will have a second production at Willamette University in Oregon in 2019. Lewis wrote several lyrics for Dear Erich, a jazz opera by composer Ted Rosenthal, including Everything My Father Never Told Me. She was a semi-finalist for Arizona Opera’s “Arizona Bold!” program with composer Clarice Assad with The Crossing. She is currently working on a full-length, family-friendly opera with composer Evan Meier, commissioned by American Lyric Theater, called Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant; it will have a piano vocal workshop in New York City in March 2019.

Lewis teaches playwriting occasionally, and embraces opportunities to mentor and support young writers. In fall of 2018, she began teaching a playwriting workshop at Artists Repertory Theater entitled “Writing Your Story for the Stage.” She has taught at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lewis & Clark College, and Independence College. She has been a respondent for several regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festivals. She was Playwright-in-Residence in the New Voices for the Theater Program in Richmond, Virginia twice, working with high school students from across the state. She taught playwriting workshops at the Ashland New Plays Festival in Ashland, Oregon, where she was Host Playwright for six years. She visited Hostos College in the Bronx when they made Song of Extinction play of the semester; more than nine hundred students received copies of the play, which was taught in classes across the college and produced by the theater department. Lewis served as the Dramatists Guild Representative for New Jersey for two years.

Lewis earned her Bachelors Degree in English at Willamette University and her Masters Degree in Writing at University of Southern California. She spent a year at Princeton University when they awarded her a Hodder Fellowship.


Lewis is a proud member of LineStorm Playwrights, the National Opera Center, and the Dramatists Guild. She was born and raised in rural Oregon, and after spending quite a few years in Los Angeles, California and a few years in Princeton, New Jersey, she has returned to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She lives on her family’s farm, where she writes full time, travels regularly with her theater work, teaches occasionally, and drives tractor whenever she feels like it.