The Writing Room, an extension of Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Festival, will present scripts by Rachel Agee, Rebekah Durham, Mary McCallum, Kenley Smith and Shawn Whitsell as free public staged readings on Dec. 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15.
Playwrights residing in Middle Tennessee were selected for involvement in The Writing Room through an open application process and invited to participate in a nine-month development program led by Nate Eppler, Nashville Rep’s Playwright-in-Residence, and facilitated by Smith, an alumnus of the Ingram New Works Project. Through readings and rigorous feedback, each playwright developed a new play for the stage in a supportive and creative environment.
“We have wonderful artists in Middle Tennessee,” says Smith, “and The Writing Room is built to take advantage of that. In these readings, the audience will see playwrights who are stretching beyond their comfort zones. That’s so exciting!”
The Ingram New Works Project has not only led directly to the development of 35 new plays for the stage in its six years but has also led to dramatically increased interest in new plays and play-writing in Nashville with audiences and theater practitioners alike. That interest spurred the Ingram New Works Project to launch The Writing Room to specifically focus on the works of local playwrights, according to the organizers.
“The Writing Room is one of the ways Nashville Rep gives back to the artists who make up this city’s vibrant arts ecosystem,” says Eppler. “The Rep gives these Nashville artists space and support to do what they do best: Tell a few great stories.”
The Writing Room Staged Readings Synopses & Schedule
$20 or $10
By Mary McCallum
Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
After a run-in at a convenience store, Tyler is haunted by the revenge-seeking, black male teen victim. Tensions escalate as both families struggle to deal with the tragic event. As media pressure continues to mount, the community is confronted with issues of race, class, and police handling of the case. One moment forever changes two lives, and the men must face their altered futures and the impact of their actions.
By Rebekah Durham
Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Cassi has secrets. Family secrets. Secrets are her comfort zone. But how uncomfortable will she be when those secrets are revealed? And will she have any family left?
By Rachel Agee
Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
America is obsessed with Brene Brown and TED Talks and Facebook articles about pursuing your bliss. Life is too short to spend it doing a job you hate! But reasonable adults do it because reasonable adults are… reasonable. But what if they didn’t have to be? What if there was a drug you could take that would help you have that fulfilling dream job you’ve dreamed about so much? Would you take it? What if you didn’t have any choice? What could possibly go wrong?
By Shawn Whitsell
Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
In a world in which African Americans are legally considered second-class citizens, Nathaniel is a black man on the rise in corporate. When handed a task that calls for him to compromise his integrity, Nathaniel has to choose between his beliefs and his freedom.
By Kenley Smith
Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Jozef, a 10-year-old boy in Gdansk, Poland, has an odd souvenir – a woman’s shoe. It comes from a hill called Biskupia Gorka, where he has witnessed something on a warm July day that he’ll never forget.
In the spring of 1946, five SS Aufseherinnen (female guards) from the Stutthof concentration camp are sentenced to death by a Soviet/Polish tribunal. Jenny-Wanda Barkmann, infamous for her cruelty and known as the “Beautiful Spectre” by the camp inmates, shares a cell block with 22-year-old Elisabeth Becker. Together, they wait out the five weeks until they are scheduled to hang. Elisabeth maintains her innocence and enlists the help of Lech, a Polish guard, to begin crafting a letter-writing campaign to the President of Poland. Jenny, who knows Lech from his previous job, uses that information as leverage to begin a project of her own.
*Artwork and photos courtesy Nashville Repertory Theatre.