The world premiere of “Bike America” runs through Feb. 24 on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre. Tickets, details HERE.

Mike Lew describes himself as “incredibly klutzy” and says he can’t really ride a bike.

That didn’t stop him, however, from putting a cross-country bike trip at the center of his 2013 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition award-winning comedy-drama Bike America.


His protagonist, a woman in her 20s named Penny, should be farther along in life than she is, he says. She’s on a quest is to find out who she is and where she should be. Lew leavens her intensity with a cast of men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, gay and straight, and of various ethnicities. His humor lays the roadwork for something more serious as the riders click off the miles between Boston and the Pacific Ocean. Bike America has satire and sadness, successes and celebrations, and should appeal to anyone who’s ever felt a bit untethered in life.

Tom White and Jessica DiGiovanni (Penny) in the world premiere of “Bike America.” Photo: Greg Mooney.

Lew says he started Bike America about two years ago, for several reasons: to take the temperature of the country; to play with what generational labels mean to those who bear them (baby boomer, Gen X, millennial); to explore how a city affects someone living there.

Lew, 31, writes plays about “patterns of behavior and the deeper social implications of what we do.” That certainly fits with Bike America, which brings him his largest-scale production to date. Long road trips are a film staple, he says, and he wanted to see how he could make that work in a theater setting.

Lew is recently married to fellow playwright Rehana Lew Mirza. Together they lead the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab, the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights in the country. They own a small place in Brooklyn, pick up odd jobs here and there (he’s a resident writer for Blue Man Group, for example) and spend as much time as they can on their plays.

“Our life,” he says, “is about balancing having enough money to get by and trying to write as much as we can.”


Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, covering or working in the performing arts for most of her life. Please email:


About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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