Edith Freni | Ingram New Works Playwright
As we gear up for our annual Ingram New Works Festival (happening May 4-14, don’t miss it!), we want to introduce you to our three 2015-16 Lab Playwrights: Jonathan Alexandratos, Helen Banner, Edith Freni, and Kyle John Schmidt. Since October, our lab playwrights have gathered here in Nashville each month with our Resident Playwright Nate Eppler to create, critique, read and write… and rewrite. Mainly to rewrite. And now the final product is almost here! Their months of hard work will be realized with our incredible Nashville actors giving staged readings of their new plays for you, our wonderful audience. So before you come to the Festival, we want you to get to know our 2015-16 Lab Playwrights. Please meet Edith Freni.
What is your favorite thing about Nashville so far?
Nashville is an excellent place to drink. On the opposite side of the lifestyle spectrum, I also really enjoy the pedestrian bridge and running path from Two Rivers Park over into Shelby Bottoms. I've enjoyed many a Sunday morning run over there. It's one of my favorite places in the city now.
How is this different than your usual process?
My usual process is to write a first draft very quickly and then do my rewrites in the room during a workshop or rehearsal process and/or abandon the play for several months, completing revisions only when there is looming deadline or some other oppressive external force demanding them of me. This process has been so totally different for me and in many ways, profound. It's asked me to confront some very old, very deeply held beliefs about my abilities as a writer. I've realized during this residency that one of the reasons I've always forced myself to finish drafts quickly is because I'm scared of what will happen if I don't. I'm scared that I won't finish anything. That I'll hit a problem I won't be able to solve. There were several moments over the last nine months when I thought, "OK, this is it. The worst has finally happened. I am the hack I've always believed myself to be and this is the play that's going to prove it." Having to sit with those feelings was enormously uncomfortable. And each time I solved a problem, I was reminded that I can actually write plays and also reminded that the slow approach is extremely valuable. That there's nothing wrong with taking time and that the work can actually be better when you take the "low and slow" approach.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a playwright?
Most realistically, working professionally in the culinary world. Less realistically, dedicating myself to competitive amateur athletics in some capacity or another.
Describe one thing that is present in all of your plays.
Violence. Sometimes physical, always emotional. Often it is self-directed. I know you only asked for one thing but also: food.
Describe one thing you are very excited about in your Lab play.
I am very excited about the ending.
Describe one thing you are very excited about in someone else’s Lab play.
One thing?!? Not fair! I am super excited about Helen's train. But I am similarly excited about eating spanakopita during Jonathan's play and also, the continued evolution or Lorrie Bernum (an actor in Kyle John Schmidt's new play).
Edith Freni holds both her BFA and MFA from NYU’s Department of Dramatic Writing. Her work has been produced, read and developed by theaters around the country. Edith is a two-time nominee for the prestigious PONY award, has been a finalist for the Jerome Fellowship and the Heideman award, and was a semi-finalist for the 2015 P73 Playwriting Fellowship. Her work has been nominated for L. Arnold Weissberger Award, the Humanitas Prize and the Francesca Primus Award. She was a Kilroy’s List Honorable mention in 2014 (Total Power Exchange) and 2015 (The Stroke). Edith was a long-time member of Youngblood and is also a member of Obie-winning Partial Comfort Productions. Her work is published by Playscripts, DPS, Smith & Krauss and Applause. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she is the inaugural Emory University Playwriting Fellow.
Her Play - This is About You | May 10 & 13, 2016
YOU works with dolphins at a run-down facility in Key Largo, Florida. She's just moved into her best friend's apartment. He thinks of her as a roommate, but she wants more. And she's willing to do just about anything to get it. This electric new play explores the depths of denial and what happens when you finally realize that the thing you so desperately want is not the thing that you need.
Ready to see This is About You and the rest of the new plays in our Ingram New Works Festival? Get all the details, and your tickets, here.