Lauren Gunderson

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Lauren Gunderson
Lauren Gunderson (cropped).png
Gunderson in 2020
Born (1982-02-02) February 2, 1982 (age 41)
Atlanta, Georgia
EducationEmory University (BA)
New York University (MFA)
Notable workSilent Sky

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

I and You

Lauren Gunderson (born February 5, 1982) is an American playwright, screenwriter, and short story author, born in Atlanta. She lives in San Francisco, where she teaches playwriting.[1] Gunderson was recognized by American Theatre magazine as America's most produced living playwright at Theatre Communications Group (TCG, the magazine's publisher) member theaters in 2017,[2] and again in 2019–20.[3]


Gunderson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Emory University in 2004, and her Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2009, where she was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.[4][5]

She is married to virologist Nathan Wolfe and has 2 sons.[6]


Lauren Gunderson's works heavily focus on female figures in history, science, and literature.[7] She is one of the top 20 most-produced playwrights in the country,[8] and has been America's most produced living playwright since 2016.[9][10] She has had over twenty plays produced including, I and You, Émilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Parts They Call Deep, and Background.

I and You[edit]

I and You was the winner of the 2014 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award,[11] and a finalist for the 2014 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.[12] I and You was produced at Hampstead Theatre in 2018 and starred Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams.[13] Gunderson was awarded the Lanford Wilson award from Dramatists Play Service in 2016.[14]

Émilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight[edit]

Émilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, about the real-life 18th-century physicist Émilie du Châtelet, was commissioned and developed at South Coast Repertory as part of their 2008 Pacific Playwrights Festival directed by Kate Whorisky. It was produced the following year directed by David Emmes. On 25 January 2011, it opened in West Seattle, at Arts West Theater. It is published by Samuel French, Inc. (2010).[15] Émilie received its European and British premiere in Oxford, UK during February 2014.[16]

Parts They Call Deep and Background[edit]

Parts They Call Deep won the 2002 Young Playwrights National Playwriting Competition and was produced Off-Broadway by Young Playwrights Inc. as part of the young Playwrights Festival at the Cherry Lane Theater. "Parts They Call Deep" and Background won her the Essential Theatre Prize in 2000 and 2004.[17] Background, about physicist Ralph Alpher, was published by Isotope: A Literary Journal of Nature and Science Writing (2009, issue 7.2).[18]

We Won't Sleep (formerly Jeannette)[edit]

Gunderson wrote the book to the musical, "We Won't Sleep, about U.S. Rep. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress. The music and lyrics were written by Arianna Afsar. Under the title Jeannette, it was part of the 2019 summer series at the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. We Won't Sleep is scheduled to have its world premiere at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia in 2022.[19]


Gunderson has made some of her plays available for activist purposes,[20] and is touted as an Arts meets Activism writer.[1]

The Taming[edit]

The Taming is an all-female political farce which premiered at Crowded Fire Theater Company in 2013.[21] Inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, The Taming explores what happens when a beauty queen with a constitutional law degree, a Republican senator's aide, and a liberal online influencer are all locked in a hotel together, trying to make a better America. Gunderson made this play free to produce on the night of the 2017 presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, citing her belief that theater, art, and stories have the ability to make lasting change.[22]

Natural Shocks[edit]

In April 2018, Gunderson created a national campaign of theater activism with royalty-free readings of her play Natural Shocks to address domestic violence and gun violence against women.[23] Theaters across the U.S. participated in these readings including, The Know Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.[24]

In both instances, Gunderson stipulated that all proceeds from the productions be given to charitable causes.[22][24]


  • 2001 Parts They Call Deep
  • 2004 Leap
  • 2005 Background
  • 2005 Eye Of The Beheld
  • 2010 Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight
  • 2011 The Amazing Adventures Of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!
  • 2011 Rock Creek: Southern Gothic
  • 2012 Exit, Pursued By A Bear
  • 2012 We Are Denmark
  • 2013 By And By
  • 2013 Toil & Trouble
  • 2014 I And You
  • 2014 Fire Work
  • 2015 Ada And The Memory Engine
  • 2015 Bauer
  • 2015 Silent Sky
  • 2015 The Taming
  • 2017 The Book Of Will
  • 2017 Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
  • 2017 The Revolutionists
  • 2018 Natural Shocks
  • 2019 Jeannette (Musical)
  • 2019 The Half-Life of Marie Curie
  • 2021 The Catastrophist


  1. ^ a b "Lauren Gunderson | Playscripts, Inc". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  2. ^ Pollack-Pelzner, Daniel (2017-10-16). "You've Probably Never Heard of America's Most Popular Playwright". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  3. ^ Tran, Diep (Sep 18, 2019). "The Top 20* Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2019-20 Season". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved Mar 1, 2021.
  4. ^ "Graduate Fellowship – Lauren Gunderson". New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  5. ^ "Fellows For Social Entrepreneurship at New York University".
  6. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (October 13, 2013). "Playwright at a prolific stage of her career". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Jones, Chad (2013-10-01). "Lauren Gunderson and Jennifer Le Blanc Share Heart and Mind". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  8. ^ "The Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2015--16 Season". AMERICAN THEATRE. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  9. ^ Tran, Diep (2016-09-21). "The Top 20* Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2016-17 Season". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  10. ^ Tran, Diep (2017-09-21). "The Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2017-18 Season". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  11. ^ "American Theatre Critics Association - ATCA Home - Gunderson's "I and You" wins 2014 Steinberg/ATCA Award, citations to Demos-Brown and Zimmerman". Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  12. ^ "Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists Include Theresa Rebeck, Lauren Gunderson and More". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  13. ^ Hampstead Theatre (2018-06-28), I and You trailer, archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2019-03-08
  14. ^ Viagas, Robert (January 15, 2016). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Recipients of 2016 Dramatists Guild Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  15. ^ Lauren Gunderson. "Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight". Samuel French. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  16. ^ Mike Taylor (2014-01-31), ElevenOne Theatre presents Émilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight,, retrieved February 27, 2015
  17. ^ "Atlanta's Essential Theatre New Play Festival & Playwright Competition". Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  18. ^ "Isotope - A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing". Jun 22, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-06-22. Retrieved Mar 1, 2021.
  19. ^ "We Won't Sleep". Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  20. ^ Inc., Marcus Promotions. "A Conversation with Lauren Gunderson on the Power of Theater Activism". Retrieved 2018-04-28. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  21. ^ BWW News Desk. "World Premiere of Lauren Gunderson's THE TAMING Plays Crowded Fire Theater, Now thru 10/26". Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  22. ^ a b Editors, American Theatre (2016-11-17). "Lauren Gunderson's Inauguration Day Gift: A Free 'Taming'". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved 2019-03-08. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  23. ^ "Kathy Najimy Will Star in Benefit Reading of Lauren Gunderson's Natural Shocks | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  24. ^ a b "Protesting guns one play at a time". Retrieved 2019-03-08.

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