Emily Mann: Rebel Artist of the American Theater is the story of a remarkable American playwright, director, and artistic director. It is the story of a woman who defied the American theater's sexism, a traumatic assault, and illness to create unique documentary plays, notably Execution of Justice and Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, and to lead the McCarter Theatre Center, for thirty seasons, to a place of national recognition.
The book traces and describes Emily Mann's family life; her coming-of-age in Chicago during the exuberant, rebellious, and often violent 1960s; how sexual violence touched her personally; and how she fell in love with theater and began learning her craft at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while a student at Radcliffe.
Mann's evolution as a professional director and playwright is explored, first at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, where she received an MFA from the University of Minnesota, then on and off Broadway and at regional theaters. Mann's leadership of the McCarter is examined, along with her battles to overcome multiple sclerosis and to conquer—personally and artistically—the memories of the violence she experienced when a teenager.
Finally, the book discusses her retirement from the McCarter, while amplifying her ongoing journey as a theater artist of sensitivity and originality.
Mann's many awards include the 2015 Margo Jones Award, the 2019 Visionary Leadership Award from Theatre Communications Group, and the 2020 Lilly Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2019, she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater.
Her most recent play is The Pianist, a stage adaptation of Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoir, headed for Broadway during the 2021-22 season.