Ingram New Works Lab, or Risk in Real Life

May 24, 2015

We talk a lot about risk in theatre. And sometimes, we mean it. But it's rare to find a single program or structure that has the bandwidth to support a process messy enough for real risk to pay off. You can take the jump in a week or two. You can take a play apart. And maybe glimpse the shape of what else it could be. But to really reinvent by running into the jungle without a flashlight, you need consistent, ongoing support and water and maps and maybe an antidote for snake poison and maybe a tiger bigger than the alligator in front of you and... and... and... ​


The Ingram New Works Lab has done this for me, deliciously. I'm so grateful to Rene Copeland for having opened her and Nashville Rep's arms to me. From day one, before I even had a draft, I had a table full of some of Nashville's finest actors. As I got to know them and we all got to know my play, their voices (both interpretive and reflective) played in my head when I wrote with my cat on my papasan chair. Denice Hicks, Garris Wimmer, Megan Murphy Chambers, Matt Garner, and Andy Kanies, along with many other actors who lent their time to the lab, showed me what my play was and what it could be. They are incredibly gifted actors and have spoiled me for all other processes. From the very beginning, Nate Eppler has been in my corner, coaching me, challenging me, encouraging me, making me laugh and question, and pushing me to go further. Trip harder. Step in deeper puddles. Taunt crankier tigers. And because I was feeling my way alongside thoughtful, curious, funny, and generous playwrights Bianca Sams and Gabrielle Sinclair, I actually could. You watch their playsSeriously. Now

 

Because I had the time, space, and structure to spend with these people, Lab has become a new old home. It's cozy, but not coddling. It's challenging, but not competitive. It's a little bit like when you jump on a huge trampoline with your best friends, and you all go flying in different directions and into each other and, when the bounce hits just right, higher. 

 

 

Last week, we shared AIR SPACE with an audience for the first time. (And you can watch it here) Usually, I can barely sit through a staged reading of my new stuff, let alone listen to it. But this time, I felt as if I were seeing it (and myself) for the first time. I caught myself laughing. And instead of trying to "fix," I realized I was making plans to give these characters and their story space to grow. I felt the way you feel when you're home alone, scrambing to transcribe the story they're telling you. The Lab has changed me, and I know it will change what I write next. There be dragons...

 

 

 

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