Melissa Leilani Larson

Melissa Leilani Larson

Melissa Leilani Larson is an award-winning Filipino American playwright and screenwriter whose work has been seen on four continents. Plays: BITTER LEMON, THE POST OFFICE, SWEETHEART COME, MARTYRS’ CROSSING, PERSUASION, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS, PILOT PROGRAM, THE EDIBLE COMPLEX, MOUNTAIN LAW and the book for the musical THE WEAVER OF RAVELOE. Her commission to adapt Kelly Barnhill’s THE GIRL...
Melissa Leilani Larson is an award-winning Filipino American playwright and screenwriter whose work has been seen on four continents. Plays: BITTER LEMON, THE POST OFFICE, SWEETHEART COME, MARTYRS’ CROSSING, PERSUASION, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS, PILOT PROGRAM, THE EDIBLE COMPLEX, MOUNTAIN LAW and the book for the musical THE WEAVER OF RAVELOE. 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. Feature films: JANE AND EMMA and FREETOWN (Ghana Movie Award, Best Screenplay). Mel was honored as the youngest person ever to receive 2018 Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters. She is a 3-time winner of the Association for Mormon Letters Drama award, an O’Neill semifinalist and a Trustus Playwrights Festival finalist. Other honors include IRAM Best New Play, an NEA production grant, 2 SL City Weekly Best of Utah Arts awards, the Mayhew Playwriting award and the Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women prize. Mel is a member of the Plan-B Playwrights Lab and presently serves as the Dramatists Guild Regional Rep for Utah. MFA, Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Plays

  • Sweetheart Come
    O'Neill Theater Center semi-finalist, 2016

    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.
  • Mountain Law
    In the fall of 1850, Tamson English has been alone with three young children on the Western 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 whether his coming is a miracle or a curse. **Seeking development.**
  • 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 and Jacob Husten, a childless couple who are asked to participate in a pilot program restoring polygamy to contemporary Mormon practice.
  • Little Karl
    10-minute radio play. "Little Karl" is the harrowing true story of Swedish immigrants Annie and Andrew whose young son was stolen on the 1850s Missouri frontier.

    This radio play was commissioned by Plan-B Theatre Company as part of RADIO SLAM in April 2020.
  • 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.
  • The Post Office
    One act. Teenaged Ash is suffering from a mysterious illness. Despite being confined at home by the doctor, she remains hopeful, winning over strangers with her positive attitude and imagining a better life for herself.

    A commissioned adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's classic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bitter Lemon
    One act. A woman and a man with an awkward history find themselves together in the hereafter.

    BITTER LEMON was a commission written to accommodate a specific production conceit: two different actors performed 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 Edible Complex
    One act. 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.
  • 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.