Eric Coble, Playwright
2007 EMERGING ARTIST AWARD FOR LITERATURE
Eric Coble normally sits on his couch at home, writing on paper in longhand. Is he jotting down shopping
lists? Not exactly. He writes plays. Lots of them. Some people write
plays for their whole lives without getting one produced. In fewer than
15 years, Eric Coble has had around 40 plays produced.
Coble’s play Bright Ideas,
described as a “Macbeth-in-preschool comedy,” received the National
Theater Conference Playwriting Award and was produced Off-Broadway in
2002. It has gone on to many more productions around the country.
Other theater companies that have
produced his work include the Manhattan Class Company, Kennedy Center,
Circle in the Square, and Playwrights Horizons (New York); Cleveland’s
Great Lakes Theater Festival, Cleveland Play House, Dobama Theatre and
Cleveland Public Theatre; the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Laguna
Playhouse (California), Actors Theatre of Louisville, Actors Theater
(Charlotte, North Carolina), Alliance Theater (Atlanta), Stages
Repertory (Houston), Contemporary American Theater Festival (West
Virginia), American Stage, (Florida), Penobscot Theatre (Maine),
Ensemble Theatre (Texas), Hope Summer Repertory (Michigan), Pegasus
Theatre (Texas), Creede Repertory Theatre (Creede, Colorado), Curious
Theater Company (Denver), Actor’s Playhouse of Miami, Red Orchid
(Illinois), Beat Kitchen (Illinois), Flight Theatre (California); at
several universities; and in theaters on three other continents.
Coble, who lives in Cleveland
Heights with his wife and children, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland,
and grew up on Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado.
He came to Cleveland in the early 1990s for a two-year acting
internship at the Cleveland Play House, and then became an
actor/teacher at Great Lakes Theater Festival. For several years, he
has been a member of the Playwrights’ Unit, a component of the
Cleveland Play House’s New Play Development Program, along with a small
number of the area’s other top playwrights.
Coble is also a staff writer for Footlight Parade, a radio program broadcast weekly on classical stations around the
country, and an occasional contributor to NPR. He was a featured writer
in the 1999 Southern Writers’ Project, and has been a finalist in the
O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Y.E.S. Festival. His
awards include an AT&T Onstage Award, a National Theatre Conference
Playwriting Award, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, two TCG
Extended Collaboration Grants, the Aristophanes Award for Best
Off-Broadway Comedy, First Place in the Southwest Festival of New
Plays, Heideman Finalist for Actors Theatre Louisville, Best of the
CATCO Shorts Festival, and an Ohio Arts Council Grant.
Among his better-known works, Isolated Incidents, Sound Biting and Virtual Devotion are examples of his slightly futuristic social satires, while Under the Flesh: The Final Descent of Edgar Allan Poe and truth: The Testimonial of Sojourner Truth, showcase his biographical playwrighting. His children’s play Pinocchio 3.5 is an up-to-date update of the children’s classic. While a good
number of Coble’s works are children’s plays, often adapted from books
and other sources (Cinderella Confidential, Pecos Bill and the Ghost Stampede),
the rest are original—based on ideas that spring from a vivid, and
sometimes prescient, imagination. Many of the dark concepts that inform
his plays about the future have already come true—all the more reason
to pay attention to Eric Coble’s work.