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 received its first full production with Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts in 2021.  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. 

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, and co-authored a chapter on feminist musical theatre pedagogy with Professor Stacy Wolf in Teaching Critical Performance Theory (Routledge).  During the pandemic, Emma teamed up with teaching artist Nia Smith to co-found Humbug! Theater Co., an educational organization committed to providing theatrical opportunities and inclusive creative community for young people. Emma teaches playwriting and devising.

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.

The Norns of Athens, Maine

Pas, Prësin, and Futur have lived in the Olde Olde Tree in the middle of the Athens dump for as long as anyone here can remember.  They weave a knotted web of threads that dictate the lives and the deaths of all who live in Athens.  This is the story of Hansel and Peter, who escaped from the Spencer Lake P.O.W. camp in 1943.  It is the story of Minerva, who left her home in Boston in 1844.  It is the story of a family headed towards Canada in search of Burger King in 2002.  It is the story of a Moose and some Norns and the Olde Olde Tree that overlooks them all.  It is a story of being forsaken, of wearing out a welcome, of manifest destiny unraveling.

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. 

read more – one acts + short plays

Press + Media

for Unbecoming

“A flourishing success, stunningly conveying themes of love, family life, autonomy, and feminine resilience […] In Watkins’ refreshingly fantastical take on this true historical event, the audience experiences the characters of the “Mabinogion” as corporeal actors, allowing an intimate peek into the inner world of Charlotte’s mind as she becomes immersed in the stories she seeks to translate.”
Mythology Meets Modernity in Senior Thesis Performance of ‘Unbecoming’ | The Daily Princetonian

Unbecoming: A Fulbrighter Journey | Fulbright Commission

for Trailing Rhiannon

Trailing Rhiannon | Princeton University Homepage

Welsh Mythology Making Waves Across the Atlantic | Cardiff University News