How to Tell Your Own Story

A Panel Discussion with Vin Shambry, Juan Villa, Stephanie Walker, and Michael Shutt

with E.M. Lewis

What happens when the material you are using to craft a play for the stage is being pulled from your own life story? Welcome to this intimate conversation about the writing process with playwrights and other theater makers, moderated by E. M. Lewis (The Gun Show), and open to all audiences and students. What power does this sort of project give a writer?  What vulnerability?  What made them start?  How did they figure out the structure and presentation of their pieces?  Who helped them along the way? How did their families and communities feel about what they shared?  What did that first production feel like, and what does it all mean to them now?  We’ll hear short excerpts from each guest’s projects, talk about the process, and then open things up to questions!


Vin Shambry — Vin is a writer, storyteller, actor, and director, and a resident artist at Artists Repertory Theater.  Before returning home to Portland, Oregon, Vin performed on Broadway as Tom Collins in Rent and John in Miss Saigon, and toured nationally with RentMiss SaigonHonk and Big River.  Vin was recently voted Portland’s Best Actor by Willamette Weekly reader’s poll, and has won three Portland Drammys and an Audelco Award for Best Actor in a Play (for Black Man Rising).  His work can be heard on The Moth podcast and PDX Back Fence. He is currently working on a collection of short stories about fatherhood and coming to terms with his own childhood called Flower

Stephanie Alison Walker — Stephanie is a Los Angeles-based, award-winning playwright whose work is known for the personalization of the political, humor and humanity in darkness, and the exploration of the resilience of women. Plays include the Primus Prize winning play The Madres, The Abuelas, Friends with Guns, and American Home — a deeply personal play about the housing crisis, losing everything, the power of community, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Juan Francisco VillaJuan is an actor, playwright and teaching artist currently based in Los Angeles. He works in theaters across the country (including the Public, the Goodman and Rattlestick), in television, and in film. He has been nominated for two Joseph Jefferson Awards, three New York Theatre Innovation Awards, won the ITBA Patrick Lee Award, and performed in the Jeff winning production of Luis Alfaro’s Mojada.  Juan’s play Empanada for a Dream — about growing up in a Colombian family in the Lower East Side of Manhattan — was named best show in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Michael Shutt — Michael is a professional actor, director, and producer based in Los Angeles.  He workshopped his autobiographical solo show A Lesson In Swimming at Moving Arts and was preparing for the world premiere when theaters closed down earlier this year.  The play (a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Theater Conference) is the terrifying and hilarious story of how he survived three strokes, and his subsequent post-stroke journey. 

E.M. Lewis

E.M. Lewis

E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, teacher, and opera librettist. Her work has been produced around the world, and published by Samuel French. Lewis received the Steinberg Award for both How the Light Gets In and Song of Extinction,...

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How to Tell Your Own Story

A Panel Discussion with Vin Shambry, Juan Villa, Stephanie Walker, and Michael Shutt

with E.M. Lewis


October 25, Sunday (1 Class)
6:30 – 8:30pm
with E.M. Lewis
Best for: Everybody

Online Class

Who is this class for


Enrollment Cost

Flex Pass Bonus: Add On, when registering for 1 or more other classes
(contact the box office to register with Flex Passes)

Credits Available
Professional Development Clock-Hour Credit Available