Melissa Leilani Larson

Melissa Leilani Larson

Melissa Leilani Larson (she/her) is a mixed race Filipino American playwright and screenwriter presently based in Salt Lake City. Her award-winning work has been seen on five continents. Her commission to adapt Kelly Barnhill’s THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON for Utah Valley University premiered in November 2019 and enjoyed a sold-out run.

In 2019, Mel was honored as the youngest person ever to...
Melissa Leilani Larson (she/her) is a mixed race Filipino American playwright and screenwriter presently based in Salt Lake City. Her award-winning work has been seen on five continents. Her commission to adapt Kelly Barnhill’s THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON for Utah Valley University premiered in November 2019 and enjoyed a sold-out run.

In 2019, Mel was honored as the youngest person ever to receive the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters. She is an O’Neill semifinalist, a Women's Voices Play Fest runner-up, and a Trustus Playwrights Festival finalist. Other honors include an AATE Distinguished Play Award, IRAM Best New Play award, an NEA production grant, 2 Salt Lake City Weekly Best of Utah Arts awards, the Mayhew Playwriting award, the Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women prize, a Ghana Movie Award for Best Screenplay, and 4 Association for Mormon Letters Drama awards. Mel is a proud member of the Plan-B Playwrights Lab and of Honor Roll. MFA, Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Plays

  • A Form of Flattery
    Working toward US citizenship and a long awaited reunion with her daughter, Filipino house cleaner Evelyn is unwittingly drawn into an art forgery scheme that could endanger everything—and everyone—she loves. *early draft* *in development*
  • Mestiza, or Mixed
    Lark Timon is no stranger to failure; it’s loomed large throughout her filmmaking career. Plagued by debt and professional disappointment, Lark chances upon a potentially career-changing opportunity only to be confronted by questions about her art, her relationships and her identity as a queer mestiza.
  • Gin Mummy
    GIN MUMMY is a drawing room comedy in which a young Victorian aristocrat comes to terms with what she wants and what her family expects on the night of her engagement party. Also, there is a mummy.
  • Sweetheart Come
    Semifinalist, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference

    Emma Hauck realizes that her husband's political ambitions are changing him—and their marriage. She finds refuge in her writing, and in the unexpected friendship of a new servant. As both relationships grow more complex, Emma most face difficult truths about herself that she never knew existed. Inspired by a heartbreaking true story...
    Semifinalist, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference

    Emma Hauck realizes that her husband's political ambitions are changing him—and their marriage. She finds refuge in her writing, and in the unexpected friendship of a new servant. As both relationships grow more complex, Emma most face difficult truths about herself that she never knew existed. Inspired by a heartbreaking true story, this new play explores the intersection between marriage, illness and the power of a pencil. Full-length, no interval.
  • Mountain Law
    Winter 1850. Tamson English has been alone with three young children on the Utah frontier for more than a year. Haunted by guilt over an extramarital affair, Tamson convinces herself that God has trapped her in the wilderness as a punishment for her sins. When she prays for a reprieve, an old friend appears at her door—but it’s hard to know if his coming is a miracle or a curse.
  • The Post Office
    Plagued by a mysterious illness, teenage shut-in Ash longs to see the world. She refuses to be sad, befriending strangers as they parade past her window. A magical and theatrical contemporary adaptation of Tagore’s classic play. **Winner of the 2022 American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) Distinguished Play Award.

    Runs about 55 minutes, but a 40-minute version is is also available...
    Plagued by a mysterious illness, teenage shut-in Ash longs to see the world. She refuses to be sad, befriending strangers as they parade past her window. A magical and theatrical contemporary adaptation of Tagore’s classic play. **Winner of the 2022 American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) Distinguished Play Award.

    Runs about 55 minutes, but a 40-minute version is is also available for competition. Both are available for perusal and licensing through YouthPLAYS.com.
  • Pride and Prejudice
    Almost from their first meeting, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself at odds with the reticent Mr. Darcy. She finds him cold and arrogant while he disapproves of her family and social standing. Brought together by events beyond their control, both must reconsider their first impressions. A crisp, new imagining of Jane Austen's most popular classic.
  • Pilot Program
    What if you were called to serve in the restoration of polygamy? You could blog about it. An intimate look at first love, second wives and last chances.

    PILOT PROGRAM is the story of Abigail Husten, a childless woman asked to join her husband in a pilot program restoring polygamy to contemporary LDS/Mormon practice. Abigail brings her friend and former student into her home as her husband's...
    What if you were called to serve in the restoration of polygamy? You could blog about it. An intimate look at first love, second wives and last chances.

    PILOT PROGRAM is the story of Abigail Husten, a childless woman asked to join her husband in a pilot program restoring polygamy to contemporary LDS/Mormon practice. Abigail brings her friend and former student into her home as her husband's plural wife knowing that none of their lives will be the same.
  • Little Happy Secrets
    Claire and Brennan have been best friends for years. But when the two are brought back together after two years apart, Claire wonders if the feelings she has for Brennan might go beyond friendship.

    **I now have a 45-50 minute one act version of this play for competition or fringe performances. Email me to request a perusal PDF.
  • Persuasion
    Adapted from Jane Austen’s beloved final novel, PERSUASION is a bittersweet story of first love and second chances. Anne Elliot, persuaded by duty and title to give up marriage at a younger age, now finds herself face to face with the man she once refused. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this new take on Austen’s quiet masterpiece is refreshingly theatrical while remaining faithful to the original text.
  • The Edible Complex
    One act, TYA. 10-year-old Anna decides to stop eating so that she can look like the women she sees in magazines and on TV. But it's hard to ignore your food when it starts talking to you.
  • Bitter Lemon
    One act. Finlay has done Helen a terrible wrong and now they are trapped, alone together, in a strange and empty in-between. What if the only escape is forgiving the unforgivable?

    “Our fears do make us traitors.” ~ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 2

    **BITTER LEMON was a commission written to serve as a companion piece to the Scottish Play, as well as to accommodate a specific production...
    One act. Finlay has done Helen a terrible wrong and now they are trapped, alone together, in a strange and empty in-between. What if the only escape is forgiving the unforgivable?

    “Our fears do make us traitors.” ~ Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 2

    **BITTER LEMON was a commission written to serve as a companion piece to the Scottish Play, as well as to accommodate a specific production conceit: two different actors perform it cold each night, script in hand, discovering the story and the characters along with the audience. If you read it, please keep the plot secret! The play can also be performed as usual, directed and rehearsed. Please reach out with questions!
  • Martyrs' Crossing
    The story of Catherine, a Christian martyr who, after her death, is assigned to guide a young peasant girl as she becomes the woman history will revere as Joan of Arc. Accompanying Joan throughout her legendary career, Catherine finds that her influence directly affects the girl’s successes and failures. As Joan spirals toward the inevitable, Catherine questions her assignment and, ultimately, her own faith....
    The story of Catherine, a Christian martyr who, after her death, is assigned to guide a young peasant girl as she becomes the woman history will revere as Joan of Arc. Accompanying Joan throughout her legendary career, Catherine finds that her influence directly affects the girl’s successes and failures. As Joan spirals toward the inevitable, Catherine questions her assignment and, ultimately, her own faith.

    2005 IRAM Best New Play.