NowPlayingNashville.com Coverage: See Tomorrow's Plays Today at Ingram New Works Festival

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This year's festival features new works from Tony Award Winner Christopher Durang, plus new works from Nate Eppler, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Gabrielle Reisman and Andrew Rosendorf.

BY JOE PAGETTA | NowPlayingNashville.com

Tucked into Nashville Public Television’s Studio A in the Wedgewood/Houston area, Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Festival can feel like a well-kept secret. Far from the bigger confines of the Andrew Johnson Theatre at TPAC where Rep season productions normally take place, the space has a raw/warehouse work-in-progress feel to it, making it the perfect place for what the Ingram New Works Festival offers: staged readings of new plays still in development. It’s a chance for playwrights to work out the kinks, take notes from actors and answer questions from audiences.

For fans of the theater, as well as fellow actors and playwrights, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Created with the support of co-founder Martha R. Ingram in 2009 to provide theatre artists an opportunity to develop new works while in residency at Rep, in less than a decade the Ingram New Works Festival has supported the development of 57 new plays for the stage in that have gone on to development, awards, and production across the United States. This year’s Festival, running through Saturday, May 20, feels particularly buzz worthy. It includes an new untitled play on May 19 and 20 by 2017 Ingram Fellow, Christopher Durang, who won the 2013 Tony Award for Best New Play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. It also includes a new work on May 10 and 17 by Nashville Rep Playwright-in-Residence Nate Eppler, whose play, The Ice Treatment, earned him the 2017 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright at the 41st Humana Festival of New American Plays back in April. The Ice Treatement was part of the 2015 Ingram New Works Festival before premiering in Nashville with the Actors Bridge Ensemble. Other Ingram New Works Lab playwrights this year include Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Gabrielle Reisman and Andrew Rosendorf.

Bios of this year’s playwrights, along with synopses of their plays and dates of performances, follow. Tickets are $10 per person per play or $35 for a festival pass, and may be purchased online or at the door at Nashville Public Television’s Studio A.

Christopher Durang’s new play will be presented on May 19 and 20.

Primary User by Nate Eppler (May 10 & 17)

Oz and Mia built a chatbot. They used Oz’s social media posts and emails and texts as a basis for the personality of this digital assistant. When Oz suddenly dies, Mia is unexpectedly left with a digital monument. But she isn’t the only one grieving the loss – Oz’s new fiancé Liz had no idea this is what Oz and Mia were working on. When Mia offers a copy to Liz, the women do not agree on who can claim ownership of the technology or ownership of the grief.  (Adult Content, Adult Language)

Nate Eppler currently serves as Playwright-in-Residence for Nashville Repertory Theatre. His plays include Good Monsters (Nashville Rep 2016), Long Way Down (3Ps Productions, Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award semi-finalist 2011), Larries (Nashville Rep 2013), and Sextape & Other Stories (Playhouse Nashville 2013). Mr. Eppler is one of the curators of The Ten Minute Playhouse, a quarterly festival of new plays by Tennessee Playwrights, and is co-founder of Playhouse Nashville, an organization devoted to producing new works for the stage and elevating the voices of playwrights in the south. Mr. Eppler is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America. For more information visit nateeppler.com

Pattern Seeking Animals by Gabrielle Reisman (May 11 & 18)

Louisiana’s coastline is disappearing. A plot of land the size of a football field is swallowed every hour by rising water. As the ocean creeps up on the town of Jean Lafitte, scientists and state administrators bargain over its future, and a theatre troupe arrives to tell the town’s story. When a storm threatens everyone’s plans, the citizens of Jean Lafitte – from the mayor to a pair young Piggly Wiggly – employees try to make some sense of what comes next.  (Adult Language)

Gabrielle Reisman is a playwright and director based in New York and New Orleans. She is a founding member of Underbelly, a theatre collaborative that stages immersive journey-plays in forgotten spaces, and is the director of new play incubator Brooklyn Yard. Gabi is a Core Writer with the Playwrights Center, a Page 73 Writers Group alum, MacDowell Colony fellow, and former NNPN Playwright in Residence at Southern Rep. Her play, Catch the Wall made The Kilroys Top 46 List, was developed with the NOLA Project, Sundance Theatre Lab, and Great Plains Theatre Conference Mainstage, and won the Holland New Voices Award and the KCACTF Rosa Parks Award. Flood City was developed through Clubbed Thumb/Playwright Horizons SuperLab and premiered with the NOLA Project this fall. Gabi has also developed work with the Orchard Project, the Lark, and New Victory LabWorks among others, and produced plays in train stations, warehouses, and defunct churches across the country. With the Ingram New Works Lab, she’ll develop Pattern Seeking Animals, an EST/Sloan Project commission about the Louisiana coast. MFA: UT Austin.

Mermaid by Andrew Rosendorf (May 12 & 16)

When Everett, 9-years-old, tells his parents he’s a girl, it shakes up the entire family and sends them smashing into an altercation with their own beliefs – no matter how liberal they think they are. Mermaid explores our ever-evolving understanding of the spectrum of gender and sexuality, of masculinity and femininity, and where we presently are with it in society – especially when looking at the gap between generations.  (Adult Content, Adult Language, Frank Discussions of Sex and Sexuality)

Andrew Rosendorf is currently a 2016-2017 McKnight Fellow in Playwriting at The Playwrights’ Center. His plays include Cane (Florida Stage), Brilliant Corners (NNPN National Showcase of New Plays), Paper Cut, Good Night & God Bless, Or the Lone Ranger Rides Again, and The Kid. His play, Tranquil, was part of the Lark’s Playwrights’ Week and will premiere at Luna Stage in Spring 2017. His other work has been produced or developed at La Jolla, MCC, the National New Play Network, American Theater Company, City Theatre, Geva Theatre, Actor’s Express, Palm Beach Dramaworks, UglyRhino, and Tofte Lake Center. Andrew is an alum of terraNOVA Collective’s Groundbreakers Playwrights Group and NNPN’s Playwright-in-Residence program. He has been a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center as well as a VCCA and MacDowell Colony Fellow. MFA: The New School for Drama, Playwriting. 

Big Nose by Stacy Osei-Kuffour (May 13 & 15)

Regina hates her nose. She believes she was cursed by her father when she ran away from Africa to live in the United States and that her nose is growing larger and larger and slowly taking over her face. Due to her fears, Regina is increasingly paranoid and has become a shut-in. She starts working for a bizarre phone sex line and saving up for an operation to “fix” her nose. When her sister arrives at her doorstep with news about their father and a strange new husband in tow, Regina’s world starts to break open.  (Adult Content, Graphic Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence)

Stacy Osei-Kuffour, (BFA: New York University, Drama // MFA: Hunter College, Playwriting), was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Previous plays include: The Painter (finalist at Samuel French Festival), Breathless (Dream Up Festival, Downtown Urban Theater Festival), Dirty Blood (a reading at Rattlestick Theater), Animals (won the Irv Zarkower Award and had a reading at the Lark Development Center, New York Theatre Workshop and IAMA Theatre), The Pearl and The Black Sea (received an Honorable Mention in The Kilroy’s for Best New Plays By Women). Stacy is a member of Chicks with Scripts, EST’s New West Playwriting Group, and was recently accepted into New Georges The Jam!