Emma Watkins is a playwright, scholar and performer, specializing in contemporary theatrical (re)inventions of Welsh & Celtic myth and folklore.
With the support of a US-UK Fulbright Award, Emma spent the past year in Wales, studying performance adaptations of Welsh traditional stories at Cardiff University.
Her Master’s in Welsh and Celtic Studies culminated with the writing of a new play, Unbecoming, which will be developed in upcoming collaborations with the Philadelphia-based new play development organization, PlayPenn, Savannah College of Arts and Design, and Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Her plays have also been shared at McCarter Theatre Lab’s ‘In the Writer’s Voice’ and in a professional workshop at Chapter Arts Centre (UK).
Emma graduated magna cum laude from Princeton in 2018 with a degree in English and certificates in Theatre, Music Theatre, & Environmental Studies.
In her academic work, Emma studies performers who revive mythology and folklore through their storytelling and musical performances. She is particularly interested in how threads from myth and folk traditions can be used to explore contemporary issues of identity, feminism and environmentalism.
Her senior thesis, Trailing Rhiannon, was an original play interweaving Celtic folksong and storytelling techniques to tell the story of a resilient Welsh heroine. The play was recognized with Princeton’s English Department’s Alan S. Downer Thesis Prize, for a thesis of exceptional merit, and Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts’ Music Theatre Award, for significant accomplishment in creating a new work of music theatre. It was also honored with the Book Prize in the Environmental Humanities from Princeton’s Environmental Studies Program.
As a researcher, Emma has presented her work at conferences in the US and the UK.
Her papers, which have explored adaptations of myth from a feminist and environmentalist lens, have been shared at the International Congress of Celtic Studies, the Storytelling and the Environment Symposium, the Fulbright Forum, Cardiff University’s School of Welsh Research Symposium, the New York Musical Theatre Forum, among others. She recently co-authored a chapter on feminist musical theatre pedagogy with Professor Stacy Wolf, to be published by Routledge in “Teaching Critical Performance Theory in Today’s Theatre Classroom, Studio, and Communities.”
Emma is currently the Literary Apprentice at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ.
In this role, Emma serves as a dramaturg and literary assistant in all of McCarter’s new play processes, including Gloria: A Life by Emily Mann; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by David Catlin of Lookingglass Theatre; The Refuge Plays by Nathan Alan Davis; and Goodnight Nobody by Rachel Bonds. Emma also reads and analyzes scripts on behalf of the theatre, conducts pre-show talks and post-show discussions with audience members, and writes articles for programs.