Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spotlight On...Lisa Lewis

Name: Lisa Lewis

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois

Education: NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Dramatic Writing

Why theater?: First the immediacy and changeability: the chemistry between the audience and actors is different at every performance leaving room for a dynamism that isn’t possible in film. It’s a charged exchange that makes each piece of theater a piece of living, breathing art. Second: silences and words. I worked in film development for many years. Film is a gestural medium it’s about what you see – for me theater can be about what you hear and don’t hear. Language can drive a piece and it can be fun and witty and elegant, and the silences can surprise you. Joining in living quiet where everyone is observing the same moment can be a profoundly dramatic experience. Third: Collaboration. I love writing alone and then I love bringing that writing to talented people and asking them to make it better. It’s as solitary or as social as you make it and I love both aspects.

Tell us about SCHOOLED: SCHOOLED is about those moments in our lives when we think we have it all under control and we know the game, but we don’t.

What inspired you to write SCHOOLED?: SCHOOLED grew out of a desire to explore class and sexual politics in the university setting. It’s a play about power and privilege, who has it and who doesn’t – and what people do to level the playing field.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that is about profoundly sad and hilarious people speaks to me. I love comedies. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang, Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation and The Flick, Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. And plays that make politics personal – Donald Margulies Time Stands Still, the works of Anna Deavere Smith.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Pam MacKinnon, Anna D. Shapiro, Sam Gold, Paige Evans, Peter Friedman, Reed Birney, Eric Bogosian.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fun Home, Hamilton, Gloria, anything by The Debate Society.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Nina Arianda.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: An Octoroon.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Expensive cheese, vintage clothes shopping with my husband.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A constitutional law scholar

What’s up next?: Working on a new play: Sex, Friends and Real Estate. I’ve also got a crowdfunding campaign going on for SCHOOLED. If you’d like to donate go to

For more on Lisa, visit For more on SCHOOLED, visit


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