Earlier this summer, I posted some exciting news; that I was selected as one of four playwrights for this year's Ingram New Works Lab at Tennessee Repertory Theatre. The basic version, for those who don't what playwrights labs actually are, is that once a month we gather in Nashville and their actors read scenes from the plays we're each working on. Throughout the nine-month program, the plays shift and grow based on the feedback and inspiration we gain at TNRep. While I could make a joke here about the nine-month term and equate the gestation and birth of a new play to a human baby, I'll remind myself that I don't know what being pregnant feel like and, barring some scientific feat only seen in sci-fi and Hollywood, I never actually will. But I will spend from now until May working on a brand new play with the support of TNRep, and THAT feels pretty damn good.
Yesterday, we had our first meeting. I can already tell that I'm gonna enjoy this. I mean, of course I am --- I get to write a play, have actors read it, and get feed back from a crackerjack artistic staff and top-notch group of fellow playwrights. What's not to love?
The bonus points come from the fact that the writers I'm working with are great guys. I won't go into a play-by-play of our first day, but I will say that when we all sat down after lunch for a podcast interview, the journalist asked how long we'd known each other. Not long, we said. Today, really. And she said that surprised her because we seemed comfortable with each other and there was a good chemistry in the room. And she was right. Nate, Andrew, and Dean feel like old friends. And at the same time, we have incredibly different voices, experience, and are working on wildly different stories.
The day felt like the coolest first day of school. While that image isn't pleasing to some, to a nerd like me, it made everything feel just right (it probably didn't hurt that lots of my OU pals just went back to school and I was having some severe post-graduate feels hit me lately). We did introductions with the full staff of TNRep. And that reminds me, I didn't properly introduce you to my fellow writers. I'm horrible like that. Anyone will tell you that I assume that everyone already knows each other and I forget that crucial and socially acceptable step of taking two friends who are standing in front of me as strangers and doing proper introductions. Emily Post weeps (remind me later to tell you about the time, earlier this year, when I said Emily Post's name in a room full of 19-20 year olds and they had no clue about whom I was speaking---I wasn't sure whether to feel old or disappointed).
So, to save Ms. Post some teardrops, let me introduce you to Dean Poyner, Andrew Kramer, and Nate Eppler. All three are talented writers that I cannot wait to work with this year. Just listening to their ideas was pretty exciting and I feel like I hit the collaborator lotto on this one. I plan to absorb as much of their genius as I can and unleash it upon the world as my own. I'm pretty sure they're planning to do the same. If you'd like to know more (ah, see now I need to watch Starship Troopers), then I suggest you visit TNRep's webpage where they have our bios all nice and neatly featured.
Before I sign off, I have to commend Nate. We wrapped up our "first day of school" by seeing TNRep's newest show, LARRIES, which was penned by Mr. Eppler and received its world premiere here in Nashville. A funny, smart, and emotional play about multi-verses, marriage, family, and finding happiness (that's how I describe it, not sure how Nate describes it), this play was an enjoyable night at the theater. Nate created this play in the lab a couple year's ago (as TNRep's Playwright in Residence, he's pretty much a full-time member of the lab, while the remainder of the line-up rotates from year to year). I'm thrilled that TNRep has embraced a brand new play that was born in their workshop and nurtured it all the way up to a full production and premiere. I hope to see this play picked up by other theaters and get published; it deserves it. If you see LARRIES pop up on your area theater's season list, buy a ticket. Buy two. Take a friend and enjoy.
With that, I must go. You might remember I mentioned earlier that Nashville is almost seven hours away and in another time-zone, which means I lost an hour on the long drive home. I am spent and tired from the first steps in an exciting journey. I cannot wait to share my play with you and share the adventure of writing it in this amazing play lab. New play development isn't always a theater's priority. There are some, but this is one of the few that makes it an ongoing, season-long event. For TNRep to put forth that kind of commitment and generosity, I am humbled, grateful, and impressed.
Next time on the Lab Report (I just made up that title for this series... it could change next month): Meeting the actors!
Thoughts. From my brain. Anything to do with how we tell stories and the stories we tell each other. Literally and figuratively.
Writer. Husband. Father. Effulgent dreamer. A Fightin' Irishman (@NDdotEDU '01). A playwriting Bobcat (MFA in Playwriting, @OhioU '13). I write plays. I'm a geek. I wanted to be an astronaut. I go places in my head.