R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas is an award-winning playwright and humor writer. He is a the recipient of a 2017-2018 National New Play Network commission for the play Nightbird and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award. He is a 2018-2019 Ingram New Works Fellow. His play, Time Is On Our Side, was commissioned and produced by Simpatico Theatre and developed with PlayPenn. Time was hailed as "a superbly crafted...
R. Eric Thomas is an award-winning playwright and humor writer. He is a the recipient of a 2017-2018 National New Play Network commission for the play Nightbird and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award. He is a 2018-2019 Ingram New Works Fellow. His play, Time Is On Our Side, was commissioned and produced by Simpatico Theatre and developed with PlayPenn. Time was hailed as "a superbly crafted two-hour mystery" by the Philadelphia Inquirer and won two 2016 Barrymore Awards, including the Independence Foundation Award for Best New Play. His other plays include Mrs. Harrison (Azuka Theater), Miriam1234 (City Theater Shorts on Ships), Human Resources (City Theatre Summer Shorts, 2015 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting finalist), the wordless puppet play Frieda the Invisible Woman (developed with Aaron Cromie, FringeArts 2015), When You Put It Like That It Just Sounds Ridiculous (2014 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting finalist), Always the Bridesmaid (First Person Arts Festival, 2012, Gayfest! 2014), Will You Accept This Friend Request? (First Person Arts Festival, 2011). He is an alum of The Foundry, Interact Core Playwrights, Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, Center Stage Playwrights Collective, Cohesion Theater Playwrights Fellowship. He has been commissioned by the Arden Theatre Company, Act II Playhouse, and Simpatico Theatre.

Plays

  • Nightbird
    National New Play Network Commission with InterAct Theatre Company

    What goes in the place of a Confederate monument in a lower-class black neighborhood? Pam & Ciel have recently purchased a refurbished home in a Baltimore. The place is stunning, honey, but the neighborhood is more weed than flower. The windows let in the sounds of a city street teeming with kids and sirens and the footsteps...
    National New Play Network Commission with InterAct Theatre Company

    What goes in the place of a Confederate monument in a lower-class black neighborhood? Pam & Ciel have recently purchased a refurbished home in a Baltimore. The place is stunning, honey, but the neighborhood is more weed than flower. The windows let in the sounds of a city street teeming with kids and sirens and the footsteps of white joggers and firecrackers and the chop of the police helicopters. And out of those windows you can see an abandoned lot on one side--an opportunity and an eyesore--and on the other, an empty pedestal that until recently was home to a statue of Robert E. Lee. An eyesore. And an opportunity. Pam, the mayor's comms director, is determined to focus on the future, even as her girlfriend, Ciel, starts building a new monument to take the old one's place.

    This is a play about liminal spaces, about the in-between, the tenuous, the fragile and the things on the cusp of exploding. The country in this play, as in reality, is in such a space. We are, as ever, divided politically, with a gaping hole where the idea of history used to be. In this moment, our entire narrative seems up for grabs. Will a reckoning come? And after that, well, what then?
  • Mrs. Harrison
    "Every once in a (great) while, a new work in Philadelphia premieres with such power and promise that it demands to be seen by a much wider audience. That play is Mrs. Harrison at Azuka Theatre. That playwright is R. Eric Thomas." -Jim Rutter, Philadelphia Inquirer

    Mrs. Harrison is about two women and one story. At their 10-year college reunion, Aisha and Holly meet by chance. Is this...
    "Every once in a (great) while, a new work in Philadelphia premieres with such power and promise that it demands to be seen by a much wider audience. That play is Mrs. Harrison at Azuka Theatre. That playwright is R. Eric Thomas." -Jim Rutter, Philadelphia Inquirer

    Mrs. Harrison is about two women and one story. At their 10-year college reunion, Aisha and Holly meet by chance. Is this the first time or has it just been a long time? They can't agree. Aisha is a black, successful playwright; she's on the cover of the alumni magazine. Holly is a white, struggling stand-up comedian; she's here for the free drinks. Aisha's most successful play bears a striking resemblance to a tragic event in Holly's life. Is it a coincidence or is it theft? As a rainstorm interrupts the outdoor reunion, they find themselves trapped inside, together. They both have a story that they've been telling themselves about what happened all those years ago and they're both willing to fight for the truth in the present.
  • Safe Space
    Safe Space is a ghost story and a farce. Helen, a young white liberal who runs a non-profit
    focusing on lower class black people, summons Courtney, a black unemployed locksmith, to her
    the sprawling “farm house” she’s inherited from her uncle. There’s a door in the basement that
    won’t come open and she needs his help. Simple, easy. Here’s the thing: no one here is being
    honest about...
    Safe Space is a ghost story and a farce. Helen, a young white liberal who runs a non-profit
    focusing on lower class black people, summons Courtney, a black unemployed locksmith, to her
    the sprawling “farm house” she’s inherited from her uncle. There’s a door in the basement that
    won’t come open and she needs his help. Simple, easy. Here’s the thing: no one here is being
    honest about what they want. Courtney, whose boyfriend Bill works for Helen’s non-profit, has
    been hearing voices including one that compels him to steal from the house. Helen is engaged in
    a battle of wills with her MAGA brother, Ryan, over the contents of the house, most of which
    indicate that their dearly departed uncle was part of a nationalist militia. And then there’s
    Charlotte, the ghost of a formerly enslaved person, who has been trapped in this house since John
    Brown’s Harper’s Ferry raid went south and has contented herself with watching television and
    plotting her escape. When the basement door is unlocked the reveal a secret room full of
    valuable antique guns, Charlotte, Courtney, and Helen’s destinies become irrevocably and
    explosively linked.
  • Time Is On Our Side
    “A superbly crafted two-hour mystery… Thomas creates an entire world with seeming room for all of humanity’s hopes and dreams, foibles and longings.” –Jim Rutter, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Annie loves the past. Curtis lives for the future. Together they host a wildly unpopular podcast from Annie's living room in which they "queer history," reinterpreting Philadelphia lore...
    “A superbly crafted two-hour mystery… Thomas creates an entire world with seeming room for all of humanity’s hopes and dreams, foibles and longings.” –Jim Rutter, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Annie loves the past. Curtis lives for the future. Together they host a wildly unpopular podcast from Annie's living room in which they "queer history," reinterpreting Philadelphia lore through an modern, intersectional lens. When Annie finds a family heirloom that reveals a buried connection to the early LGBT rights movement, the political suddenly gets explosively personal. TIME IS ON OUR SIDE's shape-shifting plot bounds gleefully from the Underground Railroad to pop culture futurity, as Annie and Curtis search for answers to the questions “How do we let go of the past? And when will it let go of us?”

    “[D]elivers thoughtful, clear storytelling drama that new plays frequently lack.” -Howie Shapiro, Newsworks.
  • The Folks at Home
    Roger and Brandon, an interracial black couple living in South Philadelphia, are doing the best they can. Their mortgage is late, Roger's been laid off for months, and there might be a ghost in the attic. It's a lot. When Brandon's mom and Roger's parents fall on even harder financial times and are forced to move in with the struggling couple, the blended family must figure out how to share...
    Roger and Brandon, an interracial black couple living in South Philadelphia, are doing the best they can. Their mortgage is late, Roger's been laid off for months, and there might be a ghost in the attic. It's a lot. When Brandon's mom and Roger's parents fall on even harder financial times and are forced to move in with the struggling couple, the blended family must figure out how to share space and how to survive. The Folks at Home is a sharp and heartfelt political comedy in the style of Norman Lear's classic sitcoms of the 70s and 80s.
  • Miriam1234
    10 minute play. Mel, an irascible lesbian woman, needs to answer 4 security questions to change her password so she can check into the flight that will take her to meet her first grandchild. A technophobe who is grieving the death of her partner, Mel would rather get caught up in the memories that the questions provoke than risk losing them to the forward march of time.
  • Human Resources
    After a company merger with a start-up, a corporate drone starts to notion strange things about the new co-workers. They’ve got strange ways of doing things, they’re excessively zany. They might be puppets. Like, actual puppets.

    Human Resources was a finalist for the 2015 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting and premiered in Miami, Florida as part of Summer Shorts 2015.
    ...
    After a company merger with a start-up, a corporate drone starts to notion strange things about the new co-workers. They’ve got strange ways of doing things, they’re excessively zany. They might be puppets. Like, actual puppets.

    Human Resources was a finalist for the 2015 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting and premiered in Miami, Florida as part of Summer Shorts 2015.

    "But nothing is more brilliantly bonkers than R. Eric Thomas’ Silicon Valley satire Human Resources, with Wahl as a startup drone frustrated by the new hires his company installed in a merger — all of whom happen to be puppets." –Miami New Times

  • It's Not Gossip If I Say It to Your Face
    Ugh, cities. Doesn't it seem like you always run into the people you don't want to meet at the worst possible time? No? Just me. Fine. Well, it all started so simply--Roy runs into his sister's boyfriend Mick on a street corner--but a friendly meeting quickly escalates to farcical levels thanks to a series of ill-timed texts, mistaken identities, stalker exes and one very nosey hairdresser. Ugh, people.
  • Institutional Memory
    Two African-American audience members step on-stage during a production of a play about the 50th Anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision featuring an all-white cast. No one notices.

    Institutional Memory takes a "race play"--about racially homogenous private school's struggles to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision--and zooms out to look at the larger...
    Two African-American audience members step on-stage during a production of a play about the 50th Anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision featuring an all-white cast. No one notices.

    Institutional Memory takes a "race play"--about racially homogenous private school's struggles to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision--and zooms out to look at the larger socio-economic framework that controls the way we think about, talk about and act on racial inequality in America.