Erin Mei-Ling Stuart

Erin mei-Ling Stuart

Actor / Dancer / Theater Maker


About Me

I call myself a multidisciplinary theater artist. Call me actor, dancer, choreographer, director, musician - I will answer! I’m happy at most points along the theater spectrum, from “straight” plays to wildly experimental performance art. Whatever the format and my role, I love collaborative nature of theater making. Devised and interdisciplinary work is particularly dear to my heart. 



In my youth, I studied ballet and classical violin and viola. I attended San Francisco Conservatory of Music for a year before being sidelined by a pinched nerve. I discovered modern dance and fell in love.  In 2000, I founded EmSpace Dance, and over the company’s 18 year life, I created over 30 live performance works, from pure movement, to site specific, to hybrid dance/theater, plus a couple of short dance films. With EmSpace Dance, I primarily produced, choreographed, and directed, rarely performing in my own work. I got my performing fix working with numerous local companies, including Mugwumpin, Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project, detour dance, 13th Floor, Flyaway Productions, Christy Funsch, Chris Black, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Echo Theater Suitcase, Lisa Townsend Company and many others.

In the mid aughts, I started edging further and further into theater world, first with Mugwumpin, an ensemble based theater company and with a primarily physical role in Mark Jackson’s The Forest War with Shotgun Players. I thought dancers and actors could learn a lot from each other. In general, I found that dancers were willing to just jump in and try something without needing a lot of discussion on information. Our whole creative lives were based on doing work “on our feet”. It seemed that actors on the other hand, might hesitate to just jump in to a new idea. I came to recognize that this hesitation was about needing to integrate new information into all of the individual work they did to get inside their own character. I loved the ownership and agency actors took over their part of the process. And I loved the way dancers trust that fearlessly putting their bodies in motion IS the process. Now I try to bring both of these approaches to all of my work as a performer and creator. 

Since my initial foray into theater, I’ve been lucky to return to Shotgun Players to perform in several productions, including KILL THE DEBBIE DOWNERS! KILL THEM! KILL THEM! KILL THEM OFF! (an original devised show based on Chekhov’s Three Sisters directed by Mark Jackson and Beth Wilmurt), Nora (Ibsen’s A Doll’s House adapted by Ingmar Bergman), Brownsville Song (B Side for Tray) by Kimber Lee, and Iron Shoes (created by Janet Kutulas, Michelle Carter, & Erika Chong Shuch). I was a part of the enormous and multi-talented cast of The Lily’s Revenge at The Magic Theater. I played Brittany in Patrica Milton’s Hearts of Palm at Central Works. And I have done staged readings with Crowded Fire, Playwright’s Foundation, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Word for Word, and Eugenie Chan.

Some highlights from my devised theater work include work with the two companies I am a member of: Mugwumpin and Detour Dance.  I originated and performed the role of “Echo” in Mugwumpin’s In Event of Moon Disaster. Also with Mugwumpin, I  performed multiple roles in This is All I Need in the world premiere, as well as on tour in France and Germany, and in the Bay Area revival. With detour dance, I originated the role of “Frank” in Fugue (with a script by Brian Thorstenson) and played an array of deranged starlets in Filaments. Beyond these companies, some of my favorite devised roles were dancing, singing, chanting, and playing viola in Erika Chong Shuch’s Love Everywhere, Orbit, and After All and playing Cissy Chandler in 13th Floor's Being Raymond Chandler.

Much of my creative work as a producer/director/choreographer has been as the artistic director of EmSpace Dance. Some of my favorite EmSpace Dance works are Monkey Gone to Heaven, Whether to Weather (a play with dance created in collaboration with writer Brian Thorstenson), and A Hand in Desire (inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire and co-directed with Wolfgang Wachalovsky). Beyond EmSpace Dance, I recently had the honor of directing Brian Thorstenson's 6 New Plays work Wakefield (October 2018).



Nomination Isadora Duncan Award in the revival category for “Monkey Gone to Heaven (Redux) (2018)

Della Davidson Prize (for innovative dance theater artists) (2016)

Resident artist at Djerassi Resident Artist Program (2007 and 2011)

SF Bay Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award (2008)

CHIME (Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange) grantee (2005)


I am a proud member of


Detour Dance

I founded and directed

EmSpace Dance