Megan Cohen is a playwright, performer, game designer, dramaturg, and multi-tasker based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, U.S.A.
Playwright & Performer
In 2016, I’m working on a new full-length play, Truest. It had a fun first reading as part of the Custom Made Theatre’s “Undiscovered Works” series in February, and is headed to Berkeley Rep in June for a developmental residency at The Ground Floor. This year also brings my 2nd young audiences commission from New Conservatory Theater Center, and lots of other projects in and around SF. Find out where to catch my work on the upcoming shows page!
In 2015, I had scripts seen on three continents, continued to perform solo and with my partner Steven Westdahl, and enjoyed a wonderful World Premiere run of my feminist vaudeville play The Horse’s Ass and Friends, directed by Ellery Schaar at Repurposed Theatre in San Francisco, CA.
In 2014, I launched my solo performance Take Me Home: a One-Woman Odyssey, based on Homer’s epic adventure poem, with runs in SF and in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was honored with the “Keep An Eye On” Emerging Artist Award from Theater Bay Area, my ensemble (Neo-Futurists) was named “Best Theater” (SF Weekly Readers’ Poll) and “Best of the Bay” (SF Bay Guardian), and my monthly event (Saturday Write Fever) was named “Best of the Bay (Humor/Improv)” by San Francisco Magazine. Personally, I was called “one very insightful and confident woman with a devilish sense of humor” by Huffington Post.
In 2012, I first became the most frequently-produced female playwright in the San Francisco Bay Area, a title I still (to my knowledge) hold, with 100+ productions and readings (and counting) in front of audiences since Jan ’09.
In other words, it’s been a pretty sweet couple of years, theater-wise.
My greatest artistic inspirations are playwright Tom Stoppard (for the challenge), artistic director Charles Ludlam (for the style), experimental ensemble Forced Entertainment (for the imagination), and actor Madeline Kahn. All the roles in all my plays are written for Madeline Kahn.
My mentors and teachers have included Carl Weber, Ehren Fordyce, Cherrie Moraga, Craig Slaight, Norman Kline, and James Kass. A high school dropout, I earned a B.A. with Honors from Stanford University (’05). I’ve eschewed the M.F.A. route in favor of learning directly from audiences, and from fellow artists young and old, with voices both known and new.
My plays have been performed across the U.S. and in the U.K., in venues ranging from Midtown Manhattan to small-town Montana.
I have appeared onstage hundreds of times with companies including The San Francisco Mime Troupe, No Nude Men, and American Conservatory Theater. Among other things, I’ve played… two different executioners (both male)… a talking bear… a perfect woman made in the image of Aphrodite… an asthmatic hunchbacked albino mother… and even Princess Salome (yes, of the seven veils, and no, it wasn’t a comedy). I have showcased original solo performance at venues including Zeum, The Marsh, San Francisco Theater Pub, La Peña, The Garage, and Salon San Carlos.
As a charter member of the San Francisco Neo-Futurists, my hometown’s branch of the 25-years-running national ensemble which creates non-illusory performance, between Dec 2013 and Jan 2015 I wrote and performed almost 40 original works as part of the rotating cast of the ongoing show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes). After fruitful collaborations with fellow Neo-Futurists from NY and Chicago, I stepped out of the ensemble in 2015, becoming one of the first alums of an SF company I’m proud to have helped build.
What My Work Is Like
Critics and theatermakers have described me as “upsetting,” “refreshing,” “an Absurdist,” “a natural Brechtian,” “a ruthless innovator,” “a highly engaging raconteur,” “relentless,” “hilarious,” “a sociopath,” “a genius,” “urgent,” “pointless,” “often humorous,” “smarter than I remembered,” “cute with a chewy gunpowder center,” “poignant and very, very funny,” and “really… something.” Watching my pieces onstage, they’ve claimed to witness “the death of God,” “the death of fun,” and “fun.”
Audience members have laughed, wept, gasped, stormed out, thrown actual cash at the actors, sat quietly, jumped onstage to dance, and said some very nice things including “I needed that,” “Don’t tell my girlfriend, but I liked your play better than hers,” “I would die to have written that,” and “I am coming back again tomorrow.”
If you’ve seen my work, and would like to tell me what it was like for you, please do! Audiences are my heroes.
Game Writing and Narrative Design
I love writing games and interactive narrative, and specialize in projects for mobile and social platforms like iPad and Facebook. My favorite projects are close collaborations where I work with a team to create an immersive and compelling fusion of narrative design and platform mechanics.
In 2015, I wrote quests and stories for the mobile game Westbound!, a pioneer-themed adventure full of cowboys and saloons, with over 100,000 5-star user reviews. I also worked on the content team for Thred, a new visual mobile platform from Will Wright (designer of The Sims).
I’ve got a fun interactive project in the pipeline right now; still in beta, though, so shhhh!
Dramaturg & Writing Coach
I’ve worked in dramaturgy at super-established places like Tony-winning American Conservatory Theater and OBIE-winning The Builders’ Association, with a specialty in new play development. Past projects include dramaturging the world premiere of Bone To Pick & Diadem by Eugenie Chan for Cutting Ball Theater (where I was formerly the Literary Manager), and the world premiere of Failure 2 Communicate by Valerie Fachman for Performers Under Stress.
I am mostly retired from production dramaturgy, but still love working one-on-one with playwrights.
I am available for private consultations (in person or online) to support the development of new scripts, and offer personalized writing coaching for authors at all levels. If that sounds cool, you can check out why and how to hire me as Your Personal Dramaturg.
Science Facts About Me
Dislikes: Jerks, bullies, the fact that over 20% of American children live in poverty.
Likes: Nachos, not being dead.