Emily Brauer Rogers grew up on a farm in Indiana with a large brood of siblings and cousins. Often left to their own devices (and imaginations), the children put on their own shows. As the eldest of the clan, Emily wore all the hats, serving as playwright, director, and star of the many theatrical productions they put on. This was the early beginnings of Emily’s life in the theatre.
Since graduating from the Master’s in Professional Writing Program at USC, Emily has been steadily writing for nearly two decades. Thematic to her work are “stories of strong women” that serve to answer the central question “How do we tell the stories of heroines we haven’t seen?” In her work “Bringing Iraq Home” Emily interviewed women who had been affected by the Iraq war, whether as veterans, family, or partners, examining both their struggles and sacrifices. Emily wanted to examine what it meant to go to war for women, and the lasting reverberations of wartime trauma, whether the women had been in combat or on the periphery.
I know Emily through the Company of Angels’ Playwriting Group, and I have read and admired her writing for over two years. Her play “Monstrous Women” explores the resilience and sisterhood of oppressed and unfairly maligned mythological female figures, including Siguanaba, a supernatural siren from Central American folklore with the head of a horse, or Yamauba, a mountain fairy from Japanese mythology, who seduces hunters before killing them. In another work “Undine”, Emily tells the story of a water sprite who is helping to alleviate drought while facing the wrath of her father. True to Emily’s words, these plays examine “stories that are bigger than life.” Emily is expert at teasing out the allegories of the patriarchy—the psychological traumas on women, their survival strategies, and their deep reserves of strength and empathy for each other as well as, yes, their capacity for betrayal and vengeance.
Her play “Bloomer Girls” follows the lives of women in baseball in the late 1800s and today. A play structured in innings, the scenes move back and forth in time as two central figures, Liz and Gwen, played by the same actress, must make difficult decisions surrounding their careers. Liz, a baseball player in 1800s, must decides whether to stay with her team or get married, while Gwen of modern-day struggles with being objectified as a female softball player in a PR stunt in exchange for the opportunity to be scouted for the National Softball League. Most recently “Bloomer Girls” had a professionally staged reading at Macha Theater in Seattle, directed by Anna Claire Day.
As a mother of two young girls, Emily continues to push the stories of women from the margins to the center as an artistic and moral imperative. This is something that she does in big and small ways, not just in her writing, but in her role as a mother, writing professor, and community artist. Emily has been a member of the Vagrancy Theater playwright’s group, Playground LA, Company of Angels, Hunger Artists of Orange County, and our very own Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative.