Ernie Nolan is a director and playwright dedicated to reimagining stories for young audiences. He is the recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association's 2014 Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences Award. As Producing Artistic Director of Emerald City Theatre in Chicago, he created the ECT Playground, a process to develop new TYA works. His various Emerald City directing credits include: A Charlie Brown Christmas; Charlotte's Web; Cat in the Hat; Pinkalicious (Broadway in Chicago); and the American premieres of Stiles and Drewe's The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A resident artist of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, MO, he has also directed and choreographed world premieres by such Tony-nominated artists as Willy and Rob Reale, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. For Chicago Playworks he has directed The BFG, The Giver, The Witches, A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars, The Day John Henry Came to School, and Peter Pan and Wendy. In March 2012, Ernie made his Off-Broadway debut as a choreographer with Lucky Duck at the New Victory Theatre.
His work as a TYA playwright has been featured both nationally and internationally. He has adapted and directed such story book favorites as If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Take a Mouse to School, and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. His adaptation of Mo Willems’ Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was invited to perform in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Ernie’s plays A Fairy Tale Life, Snow White as Performed by TJ Barker and His Troupe of Theatricals, and Beasts are published and licensed by Dramatic Publishing. His adaptation of Eileen Christelow’s Five Little Monkeys premiered at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD, before embarking on a national tour. His commission for La Jolla Playhouse, A Lonely Boy's Guide to Survival (And Werewolves), was a part of the Kennedy Center’s New Visions New Voices symposium.
He currently serves as the Vice-President of Theatre for Young Audiences USA. He represented the United States as an official delegate at the 17th ASSITEJ World Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmoe, Sweden last May. A graduate of both the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Program (BFA Musical Theatre) and The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing), Ernie has been awarded an Anne Shaw Fellowship and was selected as one of DePaul University’s “14 Alumni Under 40” in 2011.