Michael Lederer

Librettist Playwright Lyricist

Michael Lederer is a playwright, screenwriter, novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist. Born 1956, Princeton, New Jersey. He grew up in New Haven, Manhattan, and Palo Alto, California. Lederer has lived in London, Spain, Vienna, Dubrovnik, and Berlin. Member Dramatists Guild, SAG-AFTRA, AEA, PEN International, National Arts Club, NYC; Players Club, NYC.

B.A., Theatre Arts, Binghamton University. Original acting member of Tony award-winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Palo Alto. Founding Artistic Director of Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival, 2009-2013.

Lederer's play Casual Baggage, about the fewer than 1,000 Jewish refugees from Europe admitted to the U.S. during WWII, then interned behind barbed wire in Oswego, NY, until the war ended, was chosen by the U.S. embassy Berlin for their American Literature Series 2023. A staged reading was presented by the embassy at English Theatre Berlin in January 2023. Lederer's screenplay Saving America was a 2019 winner PAGE International Screenwriting Award.

Lederer's first play, 1408 1/2, was produced when he was a student at Stanford University's inaugural Summer Theatre Workshop 1979. At Stanford, Michael studied dramatic analysis with Martin Esslin and Andrzej Wirth; Robert Egan (Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seattle Rep., Mark Taper Forum) directed Michael as Yahoodi in Stanford's production of Sam Shepard's Mad Dog Blues. At SUNY Binghamton, Lederer studied voice and movement with Arthur Lessac; appeared in Synge's Playboy of the Western World opposite Elana Greenfield (later Artistic Director of New Dramatists), and wrote his second play, Beckett's Babies, under the direction of Tony award-nominee Loften Mitchell (Bubbling Brown Sugar). Michael studied screenwriting with Richard Walter of UCLA, also with Venable Herndon at NYU.

While living in the fishing village of La Herradura in the south of Spain 1984-85, Lederer wrote his first novel, Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore. Published in Barcelona in 1999, republished in Berlin 2013. In 1989, while playing Claudius in a touring production of Hamlet for London's Performance Exchange, Lederer broke news of the discovery of The Rose Theatre, the first Elizabethan era theatre ever unearthed. After stumbling upon the archeological dig on London's South Bank, he alerted The London Evening Standard, issuing the first public call to save the ruins of The Rose from destruction by real estate developers.

In 1993, Michael's play How Fast is Love? or The Practically True History of the Final Days of the real Cyrano de Bergerac, had a staged reading at NY's Angel Orensanz Foundation. In the audience was Tony award-winning playwright John Guare. When Lederer's book of short stories The Great Game: Berlin-Warsaw Express was published in 2012, Guare provided the following blurb for the book's cover: "Now that Michael Lederer has published his first book of short stories, and again lost his publishing virginity, his fans can hope he becomes a nymphomaniac as quickly as possible and keeps bringing his suave intellect to the printed page for years to come. He writes with the intensity of an ancient soul sitting around the campfire spinning ardent tale after tale to warm the winter night. A real treat." Reviewing that book, Germany's Die Welt wrote "Michael Lederer is a true archaeologist among the great American writers." And Vladimir Sorokin, Russia's leading post-modernist novelist and playwright, wrote, "In the stories of Michael Lederer, there is a beautiful sense of loss, as if the author deliberately and thoroughly erected a fine building, and then a ruthless movement destroyed it in front of you. These ruins are fascinating."

Lederer's novel Cadaqués was selected by the U.S. Embassy Berlin for their American Literature Series 2014. His book In the Widdle Wat of Time: poems and very short stories was also published in Berlin, 2016.

In 2010, Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival produced Michael's play Mundo Overloadus in its touring program at New York's PS 122. Graham Sack (Lincoln in the Bardo, Broadway's Lost in Yonkers, Dunston Checks In, Law and Order) played the lead role of Gilbert. Based loosely on characters from the 60s TV sitcom Gilligan's Island, Playbill reported "Mundo Overloadus is about the attempt to preserve innocence in the face of a modern world where that seems practically impossible. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information. At a time when we view life through screens of our monitors and mobiles, Mundo Overloadus lifts our social shields and tackles the trials of our 24-hour world."

In a 2014 interview with Deutsche Welle television in Berlin, Michael said "I've been a barefoot hippie on a commune in California, a poet in Spain, the virtual stepson of Kitty Carlisle Hart in Manhattan with all the trimmings that suggests. Now I sit in a room and write about that stuff." Michael and his wife Katarina presently divide their time between Berlin, and Dali's village of Cadaqués in Spain.


Michael Lederer's  play Casual Baggage was chosen by the U.S. embassy Berlin for their 2023 American Literature Series. His novel Cadaques was earlier selected by the U.S. Embassy Berlin for their American Literature Series 2014. His screenplay Saving America won the 2019 PAGE International Screenwriting Award for comedy.