Why Write This New Play?
The Ingram New Works Festival is here! Time to celebrate #newplay creation here in Nashville. The Festival isn’t just an opportunity to see great new plays first in Nashville before the rest of the country; it’s an opportunity for you to get to know the artists behind the plays. We sat down with each of the 2014-2015 Ingram Playwrights and asked them why they’re telling these stories.
Tori Keenan-Zelt - Air Space - May 9 & 15
Initially, I wanted to write about the complexities in gentrification and neighborhood change in San Francisco, where young tech wealth is seen as both a savior and a cause of the suffocation of established communities. But, you know, plays have a way of kidnapping themselves. When I started interviewing people there, I was surprised to hear mirror-image fear and yearning on all sides: anger and mourning among people watching what they've built evaporating, and anxiety among people trying to build their lives on a foundation defined by the uncertainty of the last 40 years. Sitting at the same bus stop, avoiding each other's eyes, everyone was asking the same questions: What does my life add up to? What kind of world do I want to build? You know, they little stuff like that. And so I started thinking, aren't we all?
Air Space Synopsis
Bianca Sams - Simply Bess - May 8 & 12
You come to material in different ways. The first time I heard the music from Porgy & Bess it was completely divorced from the Opera. I first experienced these songs as Jazz standards from the mouths of Ella and Louie, Billie, and Nina as they streamed through the radio at my Grandmother's house. I remember the first time I heard Summertime and it made my soul stir it was so good. The sorrowful moans by Nina Simone made me want to both weep and rejoice. But, at the time it was just another single on an album. It wasn't until years later that I learned about the novel Porgy by Dubose Heyward, the stage play by Dorothy and Dubose Heyward, or even the Opera by George & Ira Gershwin & Dubose Heyward. It was a few more before I actually heard the Opera as Gershwin intended. How different it sounded to me than Nina or Ella. It was still beautiful, but formal and a little stiff. It wasn't until college that I actually saw the actual Opera on Broadway. And when I did finally see it, well I couldn't quite reconcile all the different layers in the show. It was full of contradictions, difficult images, and controversial ideas of these people on Catfish row. For a long time I couldn't put a finger on why these experiences captivated me so much, but I knew there was a fascinating and complicated story here. I also knew I wanted to find a way, some day, to write a something about it. I've tried several different approaches and finally landed on this version of the play. It is still a work in progress, but I am excited about where it is going next.
Simply Bess Synopsis
Simply Bess follows a young African American actress trying to make a name for herself. We see her backstage trials and tribulations on the 1950s European tour of Porgy and Bess, sponsored by the American State Department as a way to combat communist propaganda about racial problems in the United States.
Gabrielle Sinclair - Showing - May 7 & 11
I had one thought I knew was true: "Everything changes once we've cut the cake." I didn't know how, but I believed it. And I started to believe it as the main character, Tracy, who's pregnant and worried and disconnected and alone. Everything changes once we cut this cake, at this gender reveal party, which is a sort of fun and flippant fad where magic might emerge. And as the people in Tracy's orbit showed their faces, it became clear that each person was aligning an object with a state of their own lives, and infusing it with something mysterious, a totem. A pregnancy belly, a helmet, an oven. "Once I really do this. And not just do this, but do it right," then everything changes. That's what haunted me - that there is a right way. And only the right way leads to transformation, peace, forgiveness, some impossible thing.
Today is the gender reveal party for Tracy’s baby, but when she discovers there may be something wrong with her pregnancy, this cute and fun event with a cake filled with blue or pink frosting becomes for her a ritual with the power to reveal the future, to cleanse her past, to make her a good mother and to keep her child safe.
Nate Eppler - The Ice Treatment - May 6 & 16
We have wandered into an era where it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to worry about our own “personal brand.” Our personas are tangible things that can be codified and monetized and managed. Partly it’s a dividend of “internet culture” slowly turning into just plain old “culture” and partly it’s because we all believe we are the very special celebrity protagonist of our very own beloved movie. I wanted to dive into that from the bottom up. I wanted to start with a persona that was monstrous and find the ache to be seen as anything but. To really oversimplify, it’s sort of like wanted to dramatize the overwhelming (and totally ridiculous) (but totally real) desire to get Likes on Facebook. Mostly though, I just really wanted to work on a comedy with Rachel Agee all year.
The Ice Treatment Synopsis
“The American dream used to be Work Hard and Reap the Fruits of Your Glorious Labor. Now it’s Get Famous For Something Totally Ridiculous and Cash In On That Fame. I invented that. But I forgot to do the second part.”
Left behind on the garbage heap of history and misremembered by everyone (herself included), the world’s most infamous Olympic figure skater struggles to reinvent herself as a screenwriter. By pitching the blockbuster screenplay of her own amazing and unbelievable life story. It’s definitely not the facts, but it’s all true.
Please don't miss a single one of these plays. If you can't join us in person for the Festival May 6-16 we are streaming the four plays with the help of our friends from HowlRound and Nashville Public Television. Learn more about the Festival here.