Read Moving Arts’ founding artistsic director Lee Wochner‘s article about Moving Arts playwright EM Lewis at the LA Stage Blog.
I can’t remember precisely why, but the first time I saw playscript pages from Ellen (”EM”) Lewis in a class I was teaching, of what turned out to be the very first play she’d ever written, I knew she had the stuff. In fact, that’s exactly what I said to her. I looked at her pages and listened to them being read and looked up and said, “Ellen Lewis, you’ve got the stuff.” I don’t remember the other students being especially thrilled by this outburst but there was no way not to say it: If you happen to spot a unicorn, you just have to tell people.
What was it about her writing? I think it was the depth of feeling that flowed off the page; there was a world of hurt on that page, carefully suppressed. It was the immediately interesting situation, of someone building a satellite in the front yard. It was the lyric spokenness of the dialogue, as plain people talked in ways that sounded plain and yet expressive. It was the keen sense of milieu, of the characters’ time and place, and how they moved in it. It was all of those things, and more, put together. In other words, it was all of the things she has continued to bring to the marvelous oeuvre of plays she has written since. She wasn’t there yet but it was clear already that there was a there to be reached.