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EM Lewis' 'Song of Extinction' honored by American Theatre Critics

April 6, 2009 |  5:24 pm

Song of Extinction Last week, Santa Monica playwright EM (Ellen) Lewis' play "Song of Extinction" won the L.A. Weekly Theater Award for production of the year for 2008. And on Saturday, the American Theatre Critics Assn.announced that it has selected Lewis' play to receive the 2009 Harold and Mimi Sternberg/ATCA New Play Award.

The award, which carries a cash prize of $25,000, is the largest national award for a new play. Lee Blessing's "Great Falls" and Tracey Letts' "Superior Donuts" received Steinberg/ATCA citations and $7,500 each.

"Extinction," which premiered at [Inside] the Ford last year, tells the story of a high school biology teacher who carries the emotional scars of surviving the Cambodian killing fields, and his troubled student.

"I'm overwhelmed with the positive response that 'Song of Extinction' has received, locally and now nationally," said   Emlewisphoto-smallLewis via e-mail on Monday. "This play means so much to me. I'm particularly thrilled that it was my own home theater company, Moving Arts, that stepped up to give the play its world premiere at [Inside] the Ford, with the help of the L.A. County Arts Commission's Winter Partnership Program. In fact, all three of my full-length plays that have been produced have premiered here in Los Angeles -- by Moving Arts, the Blank and TheSpyAnts. This city is full of talented, hard-working, creative people -- and I'm very grateful to have had the chance to work with so many of them!"

-- Diane Haithman

Top: Darrell Kunitomi and Lori Yeghiayan in "Song of Extinction"; credit: Jay Lawton. Bottom: EM Lewis, courtesy of EM Lewis