Tennessee Repertory Theatre has announced its schedule for the Martha R. Ingram New Works Festival. The festival will be held May 30 – June 9 and will feature staged readings of new plays from four regional playwrights as well as nationally-renowned playwright Steven Dietz. Dietz is this year's recipient of the Ingram New Works Fellowship.
Staged readings from May 30 – June 6 will take place at Tennessee Rep's Rehearsal Hall (161 Rains Avenue, NPT Studio A). Staged readings from June 7 – 9 will take place at Nashville Children's Theatre (25 Middleton Street).
The Martha R. Ingram New Works Fellowship was created by Tennessee Rep co-founder Martha R. Ingram to provide an opportunity for theatre artists to develop new theatre works while in residency with Tennessee Rep. Past recipients include David Alford (Clara's Hands), Victoria Stewart (Rich Girl), Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn (The Columnist, which made its Broadway premiere in April 2012), and Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner John Patrick Shanley (Storefront Church, which made its New York Premiere in May 2012).
Currently in its fifth year, the program has evolved to include a New Works Lab for four regional playwrights who are being mentored by Dietz. The Lab offers these playwrights the opportunity to not only receive feedback but also hear their works read by professional actors during the writing process.
"The Ingram Charitable Fund is thrilled to make this opportunity available in support of new works for the theatre," says Ingram. "New work is the life force of every art form. We have no better example than William Shakespeare who, after all, created nothing but new work. And the same can be said for Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and the list goes on.
"As Tennessee Repertory Theatre continues to be a leading regional theatre, it is thrilling to see the company collaborate with nationally-recognized playwrights such as Steven Dietz as well as foster the development of local playwrights through the New Works Lab that culminates with the New Works Festival. I am confident that this collaboration will not only have positive contributions to the Nashville theatre community, but also the American theatre landscape as a whole."
The four local playwrights-in-residence include Nate Eppler, Michael Erickson, Andrew Kramer, and Kenley Smith.
Lab participant Nate Eppler says, "The development of new plays is literally the lifeblood of theatre as a whole; to have the opportunity to develop new work with the guidance of a playwright of Steven Dietz's caliber is rare and wonderful, to then be able to see the voices of Nashville theatre elevated into The National Theatre conversation would be extraordinary."
Dietz's plays range from the political (Last of the Boys, God's Country, Halcyon Days, Lonely Planet) to the comedic (Becky's New Car, More Fun than Bowling, Over the Moon). Many of them, (e.g. Trust, Private Eyes, Fiction, Force of Nature) have as a central theme the effects of personal betrayal and deception. His play Yankee Tavern was produced by Tennessee Rep during the 2010-11 season.
"We have some really terrific new plays coming out of the lab this year," says Festival Director Lauren Shouse. "It has been thrilling watch each of the lab playwrights in the process of creating relevant, challenging new work. We are excited about adding the audience into that process with the festival. The audience will really have the opportunity to be a part of the birth of four distinctly unique new works for the American theatre. "