Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

R. Eric Thomas To Present Three World Premiere Plays Throughout The Mid-Atlantic Region In 2022

Thomas hopes that these three productions will provide audiences with the opportunity to experience the joy of live theater.

R. Eric Thomas To Present Three World Premiere Plays Throughout The Mid-Atlantic Region In 2022

Celebrated humorist, television writer, playwright, and national bestselling author R. Eric Thomas is returning to his roots as an award-winning playwright in 2022. The mind behind Here For It, or, How to Save Your Soul in America (Ballantine Books), an August 2020 Read with Jenna club pick as featured on Today, and Reclaiming Her Time: The Power of Maxine Waters co-authored with Helena Andrews-Dyer (Dey Street Books), will debut three world-premiere plays at a variety of professional regional theatre companies along the Mid-Atlantic region. Already an established, critically-acclaimed playwright and television writer (AppleTV+'s Dickinson, FX's Better Things), Thomas hopes that these three productions will provide audiences with the opportunity to experience the joy of live theater while safely coming together to enjoy great stories.

"There is nothing that I love more than sitting in a theater with other people, laughing in unison, understanding the world anew, feeling our hearts beat as one," Thomas says. "It's been so long since we've been able to gather like this and I'm so excited that my first world premiere plays back will be in my home cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia. Each of these plays was written specifically to be enjoyed as live theater--whether in person or on live streaming--but they all also incorporate the love that I and so many others have for pop culture--the shows we watch over and over again, the songs we always request on the radio, the romcoms that never fail to make us swoon. These are plays of our moment, all the good that we have the potential for and all of the complexity that we're facing together. And what better way to face our reality than with theater?"

Audiences will be able to experience the following works by Eric in 2022:

Backing Track

Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. Second Street, Philadelphia, PA

March 3-April 10, 2022

A karaoke play and live mixtape rolled into one, Backing Track begins performances on February 17, 2022 at Philadelphia's Arden Theatre Company. When Avery leaves his job on a cruise ship to go back to living at home and keep an eye on his cantankerous recently widowed mother, Mel, he expects his glamorous life of karaoke nights in international waters is over. But a chance meeting on an app, a series of mangled run-ins with the new Neighborhood Association, and a long-waited for birth are going to convince him that life is just beginning. A play that feels like your favorite song, Backing Track features an all-POC cast and tells a story about falling in love while grieving, chosen family, gentrification, laughter, and rebirth. Directed by Becky Wright and commissioned by the Arden.

The Folks at Home

Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD

March 17, 2022-April 10, 2022

This modern riff on family sitcoms with an edge comes to Thomas' home city of Baltimore at Baltimore Center Stage starting March 17, 2022. The Folks at Home tells the story of Roger and Brandon, an interracial couple living in Baltimore, who 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. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb and workshopped by PlayPenn's The Foundry.

Crying on Television

Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD

May 31, 2022-June 26, 2022

Crying on Television, a laugh-out-loud farce that will leave you feeling like you've watched Friends, Living Single, The Bachelor, Different World, and Grey's Anatomy all rolled up into one, debuts at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre starting May 31, 2022. After a chance meeting, Mackenzie realizes that she's seen Ellison somewhere before-as a contestant on a reality dating show from 10 years earlier. Struck by the girl she remembers from the decade-old clip, Mackenzie decides they should be friends and quickly gets caught up in an escalating series of hijinks to make that happen. Mackenzie's quest pulls in Chris, her brother's ex who is doing his best to be a weird loner, and Taffy, an amateur sleuth who never met a stranger, as the group wrestle with life's greatest mystery: how to make friends as an adult. Directed by Reg Douglas, developed at Nashville Repertory Theater as part of the Ingram New Works Fellowship, workshopped at the Seven Devils Conference.

As a playwright, Eric's play, Time Is On Our Side, was commissioned by Simpatico Theater Project and developed with PlayPenn. It was the recipient of two 2016 Barrymore Awards, including Best New Play, and was named one of six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg American Theater Critics Association New Play Award. His world premiere of Mrs. Harrison was produced by Azuka Theatre and was nominated for 3 Barrymore Awards, including Best New Play.

Other plays include SAFE SPACE (Single Carrot Theater; 2020 Lambda Literary Award finalist), MERLAND (commission: Baltimore Center Stage), THE EVER PRESENT (commission: Theatre Exile), INFINITY JONES NEEDS SOME SPACE! (development: Act II Theatre), NIGHTBIRD (development: Interact Theater Company/NNPN Commission), HUMAN RESOURCES (City Theatre Summer Shorts, 2015, Finalist: 2015 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting, published: City Theatre Anthology 2015).

Eric is an alumnus of The Foundry, a Philadelphia playwrights lab and InterAct Theatre Company's Core Playwrights program. In 2017, he received a 2017/2018 National New Play Network Commission in conjunction with InterAct. He was a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow, a 2018-2019 Ingram New Works Fellow, a member of Baltimore Center Stage's Playwright's Collective and the Cohesion Theater Company 2017 Playwright's Fellowship.

He is the national bestselling author of Here For It, or How to Save Your Soul in America, a Read with Jenna book club pick featured on Today and "a laugh-out-loud memoir strongly recommended for everyone" (Library Journal). His biography of Rep. Maxine Waters, Reclaiming Her Time, co-authored with Helena Andrews-Dyer, makes "the case that political biographies shine bright when they have as much panache as their subject" (Washington Post). He is also the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and D.C.. For four years he was a Senior Staff Writer for where he wrote "Eric Reads the News", a daily current events and culture column.

He has been published multiple times in The New York Times, TIME, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and others. He has been heard on Pop Culture Happy Hour, It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Jen Hatmaker's For the Love, and other podcasts.

Related Articles View More Baltimore Stories

More Hot Stories For You