Mrs. Harrison is about two women and one story. At their 10-year college reunion, Aisha and Holly meet by chance. Is this the first time or has it just been a long time? They can’t agree. Aisha is a black, successful playwright; she’s on the cover of the alumni magazine. Holly is a white, struggling stand-up comedian; she’s here for the free drinks. Aisha’s most successful play bears a striking resemblance to a tragic event in Holly’s life. Is it a coincidence or is it theft? As a rainstorm interrupts the outdoor reunion, they find themselves trapped inside, together. They both have a story that they’ve been telling themselves about what happened all those years ago and they’re both willing to fight for the truth in the present.
The seedling of this play is an experience I had with a college classmate who is now a very successful playwright. Years ago, I messaged her on Twitter just as she was starting to receive national acclaim, and she didn’t get back to me. This is fine in retrospect, of course—it was just Twitter and I can’t imagine I said anything interesting. But it stuck in my mind, and when I had the idea for Mrs. Harrison, that moment became fresh again for me. The playwright from college and I have since reconnected via email and I don’t believe either of us went to the reunion.
|Stage directions||Grant Luecke|
A well-appointed faculty restroom at a prestigious university. Present day.
R. Eric Thomas won the Barrymore Award for Best New Play, the Dramatist Guild Lanford Wilson Award and was a finalist for the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. He is the recipient of a 2017/2018 National New Play Network Commission and has been commissioned or produced by Arden Theater Company, Simpatico Theater, Azuka Theater, Single Carrot Theater, About Face Theater, City Theater Miami, Act II Playhouse and more.
He is also the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. as well as a senior staff writer for Elle.com, where he writes “Eric Reads the News,” a daily current events and culture column with hundreds of thousands of monthly readers.
He is at work on his debut memoir-in-essays, entitled “Here for It,” which will be published by Ballantine Books in 2020. Recent productions include Mrs.Harrison (Azuka Theater, Barrymore nomination – Best New Play); Miriam1234 (City Theater Miami) and Time Is On Our Side (About Face Theater & Simpatico Theater). He is an alumnus of The Foundry and was a 2018-19 Ingram New Works Fellow.
“Every once in a (great) while, a new work in Philadelphia premieres with such power and promise that it demands to be seen by a much wider audience. That play is Mrs. Harrison at Azuka Theatre. That playwright is R. Eric Thomas.” – Jim Rutter, Philadelphia Inquirer
World premiere, Azuka Theatre, 2018
University production, College of Charleston Center Stage, 2018
Reading, Azuka Theatre, 2016
Workshop, InterAct Theatre Company, 2016