LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series — "Strange Birds"

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Location: UCSB Studio Theater (event is free, RSVP is requested)

Readings begin at 7:00pm on campus, though everyone is welcome to attend a reception at 6:30pm to meet the playwright and enjoy refreshments. Each reading is followed by a Q&A with the artistic team.

Director: Risa Brainin

Director: Risa Brainin

Playwright: E.M. Lewis

Dramaturg: Luan Schooler



Park ranger Jo and her trainee, Whitney, find blood in the snow outside Frank and Gwylan’s trailer house, and an open door, but no people. Where did they go? What’s happened? Can they figure it out before the storm hits? Set in a small, rustic cabin in the mountains, Strange Birds is about women and wolves, and sisters, and secrets. What do we owe to the systems that oppress us? And how do you escape something you carry inside you?

Playwright's Bio:

E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, book writer, and opera librettist. Her work has been produced around the world, and published by Samuel French. Lewis received the Steinberg Award for How the Light Gets In and Song of Extinction and the Primus Prize for Heads from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmitt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, and an Edgerton Award for Magellanica. Lewis is currently a Mellon Foundation National Playwright in Residence at Artists Repertory Theater (ART).

Dramaturg's Bio:

Luan Schooler has worked as a dramaturg with many theaters around the country, including Perseverance Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Cal Shakes, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Play House, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, Play On!, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In 2015, she was appointed by Artists Rep to launch Table|Room|Stage, the theatre’s new play development program. Luan served as dramaturg/generative artist on sixteen of the forty-two projects between June 2020 and August 2021.


Now in its eighteenth season, LAUNCH PAD provides experimental ground for professionals and students to thrive together. Each summer, three professional playwrights join the UC Santa Barbara community as artists-in-residence to collaborate with UCSB students enrolled in THTR 146: LAUNCH PAD: New Plays in Process. In this three-week class, playwrights, students, and professional artists come together to workshop new plays. Participating as actors, stage managers, dramaturgs, and designers, everyone contributes to the development of the play. From the first moment to the last, the play is in constant evolution: actors receive new pages, new scenes, and sometimes even new characters. Each week’s work culminates in a staged reading for the public. In the words of Director Risa Brainin, "The audiences attending the readings are in integral part of this vital process!" 

For additional information: 

2023 LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series Flyer