jakub | January 6, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | The Subtext: Eric Simonson Is Still Hustling


Eric Simonson. (Photo by Del Hall)

Each month on The Subtext, Brian speaks with a playwright about life, writing, and whatever itches we are scratching. On this month’s episode, Brian visits Björklunden in Door County, Wisc., to interview Eric Simonson, writer and director of theatre, television, film, and opera.

They discuss Eric’s upbringing in rural Wisconsin and how he was able to forge a path to a creative life despite the isolated geography. Simonson explains how he found initial success on Chicago stages, most notably in the Steppenwolf production of The Grapes of Wrath, which opened the door to becoming an ensemble member and resulted in his Broadway acting debut. Eric is one of the few folks who has separately written, performed, and directed a play on Broadway.

Simonson recently wrote and produced Swagger (Apple TV+), and the dramas The Man in the High Castle and Homecoming (Amazon). He also wrote and executive produced Killing Reagan for Scott Free Productions and NatGeo. Other films include the documentary Studs Terkel: Listening to America (Emmy nomination); A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, which won the Oscar for Documentary Short; and On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom (Oscar nomination, IDA Award, Emmy nomination). All three films subsequently aired on HBO Max.

Other films include Hamlet (co-directed with Campbell Scott) for Hallmark Entertainment, and the independent feature, Topa Topa Bluffs. Simonson has also written and developed multiple television series for HBO, FX, Starz, TNT, and USA networks. His Broadway writing credits include the hit play Lombardi, as well as Magic/Bird and Bronx Bombers, which he also directed. He has written more than 20 plays that have been produced at theatres including Steppenwolf, the Huntington, Milwaukee Rep, City Theatre of Pittsburgh, Kansas City Rep, Arizona Theatre, History Theatre, and the Kennedy Center.

This episode can also be found here.

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