Creative Writing Professor Michelle Carter describes herself as a “lapsed fiction writer” who writes plays. Her plays are nothing to sneeze at. Outrageous titles such as Hillary and Soon-Yi Shop for Ties and Ted Kaczynski Killed People With Bombs have resulted in two PEN USA Awards and numerous other honors — and those are just her first two plays. Her latest work, 20 Friends, recently won the Ebell of Los Angeles Playwright Prize. The prize includes a staged reading and $6,000.
The staged reading of 20 Friends, directed by Emmy-nominated sitcom writer and producer Ellen Sandler, takes place May 4 at the Ebell of Los Angeles.
Carter’s play focuses on Phyllis, who has moved from one sugar daddy to the next, dreaming of the day when one would leave his wife and offer her a secure future. Now she’s 65 and a chain-smoking agoraphobe — and she’s been evicted. Though she and her daughter Kathleen haven’t spoken in years, Kathleen agrees to try to help. While searching high and low for an apartment in San Francisco that allows smoking, she pitches television pilot ideas to her producer ex, Richard, hoping to sell him on a show so she can support her mother.
The Ebell of Los Angeles’ playwriting contest was judged by Sandler, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Jane Kaczmarek, Jeanie Hackett and Kamala Lopez.
Carter has also won the Susan Glaspell Award, PEN West Award and Backstage West’s Garland Award as well as nominations for the Susan Smith Blackburn and Kesselring prizes. She has held residencies at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (the Ground Floor Residency), the Donmar Warehouse in London, Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown.
Her plays have been produced and developed at the Moscow Art Theater, Centenary Stage Company, Kirk Douglas Theatre (workshop), Asolo Repertory Theatre, Clurman Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Magic Theatre, Symmetry Theatre, Just Theater, Crowded Fire, Women’s Playwriting Festival, Unplugged Festival, New York Summer Play Festival, Grimeborn Opera Festival in London and New Work Festival at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
Music theatre and dance theater projects include: Dreamspiel, a Ukulele Opera (libretto, lyrics) with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; After All, Part I at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; and The Lucky One, Ground Floor Residency, Berkeley Rep and Shotgun Players (2015).
Carter has written plays published by Dramatic Publishing and a novel published by Penguin Books.
Ebell of Los Angeles
The Ebell of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization founded in 1894 by and for women, has responded to the gender inequity in the entertainment industry by resurrecting the Ebell Playwright Prize. Created in 1928 but dormant for almost a century, the Ebell Playwright Prize aims to encourage, inspire and celebrate California women playwrights.