Lanfour Productions

I. Nelson Heggen

Playwright & Actor

Norwegian born Ivar Nelson Heggen is a multi-talented theatre artist who has been seen on many of Houston's stages playing such diverse roles as Doug Roberts in Mr. Roberts, Dr. Wickstead in ​Habeas Corpus, and Walt in Lanford Wilson's Book of Days.  As a company member of the former Actors Theatre of Houston, Nelson created roles for the Houston or World Premieres of many plays.  He continued his affinity for developing new works as a member of the Edward Albee New Play Festival at the University of Houston, and now as a founding member of Lanfour Productions.

James Joseph Barnes

Playwright, Poet & Lyricist

A graduate of Princeton University, Joe Barnes is a former career diplomat with the U.S. State Department. In 1995 he became  Rice University's Bonner Means Baker Fellow.  A writer at home in multiple media, Joe has written extensively on international economics, and his essays have appeared in many newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and New York Times.  He is also a published poet and lyricist. His friendship and association with Lanford Wilson  was the beginning of Joe's new writing venture, as one of Houston's premiere playwrights. 

Lanfour's founding 4

MJ Wilson Emig

Director, Actor & Playwright

A New York  native, MJ  earned her BA in Theatre from De Sales University in PA and her MFA  from the University of Houston.  She  acted and directed professionally for over 30 years working primarily in NY, PA, and  FL before coming to TX.  At the University of Houston MJ served as Producer for the Edward Albee New Play Festival under Lanford Wilson. Their association led to the creation of Lanfour Productions.  MJ is committed to carrying on Lanford's legacy--developing new  works for the American theatre.



Our Beginning...... 

Developing New Plays 

Lanford Wilson 


Born and raised in Lebanon, Missouri, Lanford later moved to California, where he studied art and art history at San Diego State College. From California he moved to Chicago where he worked as a graphic artist and studied playwriting at the University of Chicago.  In 1962, Wilson moved to New York City. He began his professional career as a playwright writing one-act plays  for Joe Cino, a pioneer of the Off-Off Broadway theatre movement. Wilson's The Madness of Lady Bright premiered at Caffe Cino in May 1964 and was the venue's first significant success. Lanford's early full-length plays premiered at La Ma Ma Experimental Theatre including Balm in Gilead which was directed by Marshall W. Mason with whom he was a co-founder of the Circle Repertory Company. Lanford's Fifth of July, Tally's Folly, and Angel's Fall were Tony Award Nominee's for Best Play. In 1980 Tally's Folly earned Lanford Wilson the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.


Lanfour Productions grew out of the Edward Albee New Play Festival at the University of Houston.  The Festival began as a collaboration between playwright Edward Albee and the late Dr. Sidney Berger, Director of the UH School of Theatre and Dance. Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright  Lanford Wilson later took the reigns from Albee and for several years taught playwriting to selected writers while overseeing Festival performances.


When the University discontinued the Albee Festival, Lanford suggested to his former Albee Producer, MJ Wilson Emig, that they continue on their own. Lanfour Productions was born.  Until his death in 2011, Lanford continued to mentor playwrights from his home in Sag Harbor, NY, while MJ and fellow founders Nelson Heggen and Joe Barnes  brought  plays through staged readings and workshops in Houston,TX.


Lanfour Productions is committed to continuing Lanford Wilson's work developing new plays for the modern theatre.