Spotlight on the Playwright: Emilie

UPDATE: Lauren Gunderson will be giving a Talk Back on January 29 following the Sunday matinee. This is your chance to interact with the most produced living playwright in the United States!

Lauren Gunderson is a playwright, screenwriter and short story author from Atlanta, GA. She received her BA in English/Creative Writing at Emory University, and her  MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch, where she was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

Image result for Lauren gundersonShe was named the most produced living playwright in America by American Theatre Magazine in 2016, was awarded the 2016 Lanford Wilson Award from the Dramatist Guild, and was awarded the prestigious 2014 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for her play, I and You (also a Susan Smith Blackburn Blackburn and John Gassner Award finalist). That play was an NNPN Rolling World Premiere that started at Marin Theatre Company and has seen over 40 productions nationwide. She is also a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company.

Bauercommissioned by San Francisco Playhouse, premiered there and in NYC at 59E59 in 2014 with The New Yorker calling it “beautifully written… brings it audience to tears”. Her play Silent Sky (Jane Chambers Award finalist) premiered at South Coast Rep in 2011 and was further developed and rewritten for TheatreWorks, which opened to raves calling it “sheer magic”. Her 2011 3-city rolling world premiere of Exit, Pursued By A Bear, was featured in American Theatre Magazine and The Week, and has reached over 20 communities across the US winning “Best Comedy” accolades. Bear is now published by Playscripts, as is her comedy, Toil And Trouble and  The Taming  which the SF Chronicle called “a laugh riot with timely food for thought.”

Her first musical, The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog! commissioned by The Kennedy Center, opened in DC to rave reviews and continues its life in a state-wide tours. Her first children’s book based on the Dr. Wonderfrul will be released by Two Lions Publishing this fall.  Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Tonight (published by Samuel French) was commissioned and premiered at South Coast Rep in 2009, and has run across the country and in England. By And By premiered at Shotgun Players in Berkeley. Fire Work was developed at The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and is a 2011 winner for Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project, and will premiere at Theatre First in 2014. She has developed plays with Second Stage, Red Bull, and Primary Stages in NYC; New Rep in Boston; Playwrights Foundation, Crowded Fire, TheatreWorks, Aurora Theatre, and The Magic Theatre in San Francisco; Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas; Synchronicity, Actor Express and Horizon Theatre in Atlanta; JAW at Portland Center Stage in Portland; WORDBridge, Brave New Works, and others.

Her work has received national praise and awards including being a Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award finalist, a Susan Smith Blackburn finalist, a Jane Chambers Award finalist, and winner of the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre, Global Age Project, Young Playwright’s Award, Eric Bentley New Play Award and Essential Theatre Prize.

She has been commissioned by South Coast Rep (3 times), San Francisco Playhouse (2 times), The Denver Center Theatre Company, Crowded Fire, CentralWorks, The Kennedy Center, The Alliance Theatre’s Collision Project, Marin Theatre Company, Actors Express Theatre, Dad’s Garage Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, City University of New York and Synchronicity Performance Group.

She received a Sloan Science Script Award (2008) for her screenplay Grand UnificationLeap was published with Theatre Emory’s Playwriting Center (2004), her first collection of plays, Deepen The Mystery: Science and the South Onstage, is published with iUniverse (2006).and her short story, “The Ascending Life”, won the Norembega Short Fiction Award and was published in the anthology, The Shape of Content; her science play Background was published in ISOTOPE: A Journal of Nature and Science Writing. Her string theory poem “Hook of a Number” was published in the anthology Riffing On Strings and her monologue “Mass” was published in The Science Creative Quarterly 2015.

She is writing a film for The Weinstein Company and has developed TV for MTV.

She has spoken nationally and internationally on the intersection of science and theatre and Arts Activism, and teaches playwriting in San Francisco. She is a Playwright in Resident at The Playwrights Foundation, a Dramatists Guild member, and was a member of Just Theatre’s New Play Lab. She writes for The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, tweets @LalaTellsAStory, and curates HowToPlaywright.com.


See Emilie:  La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight  January 13 – February 5, 2017 at Ross Valley Players.

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Meet the Cast of Emilie


Robyn Grahn
(Emilie)is over the moon to be working with such an extraordinary story and creative team. Most recently Robyn performed at Ross Valley Players as Gabriella (Boeing Boeing), Anne (Persuasion), and Louka (Arms and the Man). Outside of RVP, she’s performed
with the Petaluma Shakespeare Co, 6 New Plays, ShotzSF, PlaygroundSF, Livermore Shakespeare, Masquers Playhouse, and Maui Onstage. “And for all your knowing, you are blessed with more- Questions.” Hopefully, you’ll have lots to share after the show.

Catherine Luedtke (Voltaire) is beside herself to be a part of
the incredible journey in space and time that is Emilie! Her Regional credits include: Hayfever (Stanford Rep), Pygmalion (Cal Shakes), ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Blood Wedding (TheBreadbox), Paradise Street (No Nude Men Collective), The Braggart Soldier (Best Ensemble nominee BATCC), Middletown and Top Girls (Custom Made- nominee ‘Best Actress, Featured Role’-TBA Awards),
My Beautiful Laundrette
(NCTC), and Rabbit Hole (Artists Rep.) National/International credits include Debts:The Erotic Review Sinai (National Gallery, Prague), This is It/Dawn at Bar Bazooka’ (M.I.T. Boston – Villa Design Group). Upcoming: The Maids in Paris (Than Hussein Clark) followed by Sordid Lives at NCTC, San Francisco. Cat studied acting at Studio A.C.T. and Shakespeare at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Cat was a fi nalist for The TBA ATLAS Actor Titan Award in 2013. A special thanks to Patricia for seeing Voltaire in me! catluedtke.com

Tamar Cohn (Madam) is delighted to have this exciting opportunity for creativity and collaboration – a unique play, a bold director, multi-talented castmates – in a supportive theatre. Since her last play at Ross Valley Players (The Clean House), Tamar has performed with Theatre Rhinoceros (A Song at Twilight), Ubuntu Theater Project (The Grapes of Wrath), TheatreFIRST (Much Ado About Nothing) and College of Marin (Dead Accounts). Other companies include Cutting Ball, Central Works, Center REP, Alter Theater, 6th St. Playhouse, as well as several others no longer in business (not her fault!) She has received individual and ensemble nods from the SFBATCC as well as the Theatre Bay Area adjudicators. You may see her next at Central Works in Berkeley in Years in the Hundreds.

Shoresh Alaudini (Gentleman) received his BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco. He was the premiere recipient of the Beach Blanket Babylon $10,000 Acting Scholarship for the Arts. Shoresh has performed with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Shotgun Players, Golden Thread Productions, Pollinator Theatre, Sleepwalkers
Theatre, Theatre Period, Crowded Fire, Brava, Rising Voices, College Players USF, and Intersection for the arts. Film credits include 2004’s award winning indy Mission Movie, 2007 Sundance Selection Strange Culture, and Focus Feature’s 2016 release, Kicks. This is Shoresh’s first show with Ross Valley Players.


Neiry Rojo
(Soubrette) is excited to be back on the Ross Valley Players stage. Prior to Emilie, Ms. Rojo appeared as Marela in Anna in the Tropics, directed by Mary Ann Rodgers. Favorite past roles include Trinculo in Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co.’s The Tempest, and the following work with Santa Cruz Shakespeare: Audrey in As You Like It, Queen Elizabeth I in The Beard of Avon, and the Hose of the Garter Inn in The Merry Wives of Windsor. She earned her M.A in Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz.