about me

Emma Watkins is a playwright, dramaturg, and performer. 

Her plays are inclusive, imaginative, and fundamentally feminist.  She strives to give female voices the opportunity to embellish and interrogate the stories of their lives.  Quite often, they sing, too. 

With the support of a Fulbright Award, Emma spent a year in Wales, studying performance adaptations of Welsh myths and folklore. Her research culminated with the creation of a new play, Unbecoming, which has been developed in collaborations with PlayPenn, Princeton University, and Cardiff University (UK).  It will receive its first full production with Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts in 2020.  Her plays have also been shared at McCarter Theatre Lab’s In the Writer’s Voice, Chapter Arts Centre (UK), and Princeton’s Theatre Intime.  She was recently nominated for the National Theatre Conference’s Barry and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award. 

As a dramaturg and literary assistant, Emma has assisted on productions of Gloria: A Life, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sleuth, and the world premiere of Rachel Bond’s Goodnight Nobody (McCarter Theatre Center) as well as Into the Woods (dir. Ethan Heard, Lewis Center for the Arts).  Emma has presented her plays and research at conferences in the US and the UK.  She recently co-authored a chapter on feminist musical theatre pedagogy with Professor Stacy Wolf in Teaching Critical Performance Theory (Routledge.)  Emma graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where her play Trailing Rhiannon was awarded Princeton English Department’s Alan S. Downer Thesis Prize, Princeton Lewis Center for the Arts’ Music Theatre Prize, and Princeton Environmental Institute’s Environmental Humanities Book Prize.  She received her Masters in Welsh & Celtic Studies with Distinction from Cardiff University, where her play Unbecoming was honored with the Sioned Davies Award for best dissertation in the School of Welsh. 

Plays

Full Length Plays

Unbecoming

Charlotte Guest is a Victorian housewife and the mother of seven.  Much to her husband’s dismay, she also aspires to be the first to translate the Mabinogion – a collection of ancient Welsh stories – into English.  As she translates, she encounters the story of Blodeuwedd, a woman conjured from flowers – a woman forced to become a wife, who is then metamorphosed into an owl as punishment for her infidelity.  In translating the story of the Woman of Flowers, Charlotte must confront the feminine role that she both endures and perpetuates.

Production + Development

University, Princeton University, dir. Eliana Cohen-Orth (2020)
Reading, PlayPenn Education, dir. Jill Harrison (2020)
Workshop, Savannah College of Arts & Design (2020) *Delayed due to COVID-19
Reading, Princeton University, dir. Daniel Krane (2020)

Awards

Nominee, National Theatre Conference’s Barry and Bernice Stavis Award (2020)
Recipient, Sioned Davies Award, Cardiff University School of Welsh & Celtic Studies (2020)


Trailing Rhiannon

Falsely accused of eating her own child, Rhiannon is forced to stand outside her home, stopping passersby to tell them the gruesome tale of a crime she did not commit.  The story she shares follows the trail of her life: from the Otherworld to this one, past jealous princes and stones that speak, surveyed by birds that dart across the sky with letters in their beaks.  In the search for her story’s ending, Rhiannon discovers something all the more elusive – the proof of her innocence. 

Production + Development

Workshop, Chapter Arts Centre (UK), dir. Sam Alice Jones (2019)
Showcase Reading, McCarter Theatre Lab (2018)
University, Princeton University, dir. Abigail Jean-Baptiste (2018)

Awards

Recipient, Music Theatre Award, Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts (2018)
Recipient, Alan S. Downer Prize, Princeton University Dept. of English (2018)
Recipient, Environmental Humanities Prize, Princeton Environmental Institute (2018)
Recipient, Mallach Award, Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts (2017)
Recipient, A. Scott Berg Fellowship, Princeton University Dept. of English (2017)

read more – one acts + short plays

Upcoming

Unbecoming will receive its first full (socially distant outdoor) production with Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts in October 2020! Find out more at their website.

Together with Nia Smith, I’ve recently launched Humbug! Theater Co. to offer creative community and theater-making opportunities to young people during this time of social distancing. We’re co-teaching a class in November + December! Find out more at our website.