Christopher Durang Will Be Ingram New Works Playwriting Fellow at Nashville Rep
"I have been a fan of Christopher Durang's since I was in school and saw a student production of Beyond Therapy. So funny, so deranged," says Nashville Rep's Producing Artistic Director René D. Copeland. "His unique and sharp comic voice has influenced a generation of theatre artists and goers, and ever since the establishment of the Ingram Fellowship he has been on my short list. I'm just a little breathless that he has accepted our fellowship this year, and I am thrilled to get to share him with Nashville as he works on a new play that will be a part of our Ingram Festival next May."
Each season, Nashville Rep welcomes four emerging playwrights and one established playwright into its Ingram New Works Project. The emerging playwrights make up the Ingram New Works Lab, directed by Nashville Rep's Playwright-in-Residence Nate Eppler, and the established playwright serves as the Ingram Playwriting Fellow.
The Fellow joins the Lab playwrights for Playwrights Week in January, helping critique and shape their work, and serving as a mentor for the early career playwrights. "Writing can be very lonely," says Christopher Durang. "I find it helpful to be around a table with other writers, who can give feedback to one another. Thus the Ingram New Works Fellowship easily fits into helping writers as they move along on a play."
Beyond being an opportunity to connect the Lab Playwrights and the Fellow, Playwrights Week is the first chance Nashville audiences will get to connect with this season's playwrights. As part of this season's Playwrights Week, Nashville Rep will host a REPaloud staged reading of Durang's Beyond Therapy, one of the plays that brought national acclaim to Durang's work. The event will take place Saturday, January 14 at OZ Arts Nashville.
"Nashville is a remarkable place to bring new stories to life. This is a dream for a playwright. The artists supporting you are extraordinary and there is a city-wide ever-growing appetite for new works. And now we get to bring an artist like Christopher Durang into the fold," says Nashville Rep's Playwright-in-Residence Nate Eppler. "He was my very first favorite playwright. I vividly remember the first time I read one of his plays; total comic absurdity wrapped around real emotion, real anxiety, real feelings. He absolutely exploded my ideas of what a play was supposed to be. It was the first time I really thought about maybe being a playwright. And now Christopher Durang wants to come to Nashville and build a play here. How amazing is that?"
The Ingram New Works Project culminates in the Ingram New Works Festival, a celebration of all five new plays fostered in the program that season. The plays are performed as staged readings with professional Nashville actors and are an opportunity for Nashville audiences to be a part of this exciting process. This season's festival is slated to run May 10-20, 2017.
Christopher Durang's plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical), The Actor's Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie Award, Off-Broadway run, 1981-83), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982), Baby With the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theater, 1985; Obie Award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), and Durang Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams parody For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls). He has an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Early in his career, he won a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, the Lecompte du Nouy Foundation grant, and the Kenyon Festival Theatre Playwriting Prize. In 1995 he won the prestigious three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. Durang served as co-chair with MarSha Norman of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan until 2016. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.
Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Project was created with the support of co-founder Martha R. Ingram to provide an opportunity for theatre artists to develop new theatre works while in residency at Nashville Rep. Past Fellowship recipients include David Auburn (Proof, The Columnist), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea), Theresa Rebeck (Bad Dates, Fever), Doug Wright (I am My Own Wife, Posterity), Donald Margulies (Dinner with Friends, The Country House) and Rebecca Gilman (Spinning Into Butter, Luna Gale.)
The Ingram New Works Project is a locally valued and nationally recognized new play development program that cultivates and amplifies new voices for the stage and expands the creative capacity of Nashville by connecting artists and audiences across extraordinary new works.
Nashville Rep is a non-profit theatre creating classic and Contemporary Theatre for Nashville that inspires empathy and prods intellectual and emotional engagement in audiences. The 2016-17 season of shows includes The Last Five Years, Noises Off, A Christmas Story, Posterity, and A Raisin in the Sun. The season concludes with the Ingram New Works Festival - a showcase of new works created in Nashville for the American Theatre.