Nate Eppler's THE FUTURE MRS. | Ingram New Works Festival
Ingram New Works Playwright Nate Eppler on The Future Mrs.
Theatres worldwide celebrate "Theatre Thursday" online every week, using the day to tell the world about the exciting things happening at their theatres. At the Nashville Rep we’re extremely excited about our Ingram New Works Project and upcoming festival so we’ve decided to dedicate the next four Thursdays to the Ingram New Works Playwrights and their festival plays. Our New Media/Marketing Coordinator Shane Burkeen sat down with playwright Nate Eppler to talk about his festival play The Future Mrs.
Shane: Describe your new play The Future Mrs. in one word.
Nate: Is ‘topsy-turvy’ one word?
What is your new play about?
After being married for only three weeks, a young Victorian woman finds that her marriage is nothing like she thought it would be. She wants a love affair like she’s read about in novels, but her new husband can’t seem to let go of the past. She travels to the future to find the kind of love story she thought she wanted, but the future isn’t at all what she expected.
It’s about Victorian Time Travel?
Well, yeah, I mean, not only that, but yes, that too. It’s kind of a romantic adventure.
You wrote a romantic adventure?
I was just as surprised as you are.
How do they travel through time?
Magic portal. The heroine, Penny, finds a large hole in the wall behind the cabinet in her parlor, and, naturally, it leads her to the future. Like Penny says in the play ‘If popular literature is to be believed, the English countryside is positively pocked with magic portals.’
What does she find when she gets to the future?
Her house has been turned into a living museum. And she meets the actor who plays her husband in that museum.
What happens next?
You should come see the reading. The Future Mrs. kicks off the festival, May 8th at 7pm.
Who is in your cast?
The cast is tremendous. I’m really excited about it. One of the reasons I love Nashville is getting to work in a city that’s full of truly excellent actors. Jeff Boyet and Jennifer Richmond play the Victorian newlyweds, Patrick Waller plays the actor in the future and David Compton plays an outrageous Victorian medium who claims to be able to see into the fourth dimension.
Where did the inspiration for the play come from?
I saw a production of Fiddler on the Roof and the guy playing Motel the Tailor had a modern day measuring tape around his neck, and for a while it was all I could focus on. I mean, this is late 1800’s or early 1900’s Tsarist Russia, right? A modern day measuring tape made of flexible plastic would change their little village forever. I mean, would Motel get rich for inventing it? Or would they, like, burn him at the stake because they thought he was some sort of an evil sorcerer? Not that Tsarists went in for a lot of witch burnings, but you see my point. Anyway I got to thinking about how such a tiny thing from the future could absolutely topple the present. And the play grew out from there.
What does she bring back from the future?
An iPod shuffle. But more dangerous than even that, she brings back some ideas. Always dangerous. And every change she makes to the present changes the future.
How do you know you have a good idea for a play?
When I tell you the idea and you tell me a story in return. I honestly believe the best stories lead to other stories. It’s like when somebody tells a joke. If it’s a good joke, everybody in the room wants to tell their good joke; if it’s a bad joke, we all just go back to playing with our phones.
Your recent plays have been about things like zombies coming back from the dead and meeting your doubles and now time travel. Is it fair to say you’re an absurdist? Or are you just into sci-fi?
Maybe. I’m sure you can fairly describe them as absurd, but I don’t know if I think of them that way. It’s more like we actually live in a very strange world where very strange things happen and I just turn the volume up on that.
So the week we learned to ride bicycles my brother Carl and I went to the Emergency Room three times in four days. Not really the coordinated athletic type, either of us. The third trip was Carl getting a concussion because he fell off his bike and into a fire hydrant. He made it pretty far down the block, a good three or four houses away, and then he sort of wobbled and tipped over, and smashed his head into a fire hydrant. And it’s not like our block was full of fire hydrants or something, there was just the one. Even at the time I remember thinking Of all the places to fall, of course you go headfirst into the fire hydrant. Anytime anybody asks about a lesson from childhood or whatever, this is the story I think of. You’re going to fall, there’s no question about that. The question is: Is the world going to throw a fire hydrant at you when you do? I mean, that’s a fair way to describe my plays, right? They’re kind of about people who are stumbling or falling down and then, you know, the world starts throwing fire hydrants.
How old were you?
This was last week.
Did you ever learn to ride a bike?
Did your brother ever learn to ride a bike?
Yes. He’s a bicycle messenger now. It’s an uplifting story of triumph over adversity. He’s a lawyer, actually. He’s the taller, smarter one.
What’s your next play about?
Well, I was thinking it might be about a drug deal gone wrong and witches, but now I’m thinking maybe it should be an uplifting story about a bicycle messenger triumphing over adversity. What do you think?
Nate Eppler's The Future Mrs. staged readings are May 8th and 13th, 2013 at Nashville Rep's Rehearsal Hall in Studio A (Nashville Public Television Building). For more information about the Ingram New Works Project and festival or reservations to Nate Eppler's The Future Mrs. please click here. Please check back with us next Thursday for our more on Ingram New Works Playwright Garrett Schneider and his play Ultrasound.