Emily Wiest ’12, Playwright 

Photograph by Beth Perkins

Major: Theatre

Leonard Berkman’s influential courses: Writing for Theatre, Modern European Drama

He was there for everything: “Len didn’t miss one single reading of mine when I was at school. All of the professors did an enormous amount to be there for students, but Len was the only one there for everything—he didn’t miss the smallest one-act reading. He goes above and beyond in every way and with a smile on his face.”

How he inspired my career: “We always  met in the green room for class, and Leonard would walk around the couches and talk. He allowed us to have our plays read in class, as a privilege for working hard. I wrote my first short play in his class—the play I submitted to get into the graduate program in playwriting at Columbia. When Len gave this play attention, I realized that I had something there. It felt incredible and sparked a need to write dialogue and then out of that grew the beginning of a new life story for myself.”

A constant reader: “After I graduated, he continued to read my work endlessly as if I were still a student. He helped me develop my one-act into a full-length. Now, I’m writing full-length scripts and I’m sending him 120-page drafts, and he’s reading them still.”

Smoothing the road: “I funded and wrote and produced and acted and directed a feature film called BadPuss: A Popumentary right out of Smith. We premiered in New York, but he helped us show it at Smith and made it an actual part of the theatre department season. He’s a very unique professor who takes a lot of interest in his students.”

Compiled by Lindsey Rowe Roberts ’06