Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean Poynor

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean Poynor

For almost a year, four up-and-coming playwrights have been coming to Nashville every month to develop new projects - from the initial germination of an idea into new plays that promise to challenge audiences and to provoke thought - as part of Nashville Repertory Theatre's innovative Ingram New Works Project.

Lindsay Joelle, Dean Poynor, Riti Sachdeva and R. Eric Thomas, were chosen for the Ingram New Works Project based on their talent, to be certain, but perhaps most compellingly by their creativity and the play they were hoping would emerge from that very earliest idea. Once a month since September, they have visited the creative team at Nashville Rep, which has become their home away from home, to garner the kind of support they needed - from guidance, actors and play workshops, to the conviviality of meals and downtown adventures shared.

Their shared adventures culminate, beginning Wednesday, May 8, with the Ingram New Works Festival (continuing through May 18 at Nashville Children's Theatre), when premiere staged readings of their new plays will be presented for audiences over the course of the two-week Festival.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean Poynor
Sarah Ruhl

The final weekend of the festival will include the first public look at a brand-new play by Sarah Ruhl, this year's Ingram New Works Fellow. Ruhl, whose plays - from Dead Man's Cell Phone and Eurydice to In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) - have been produced by local theater companies to the acclaim of audiences and critics, alike, is latest in a long line of notable and award-winning American Playwrights who have served as mentors to the emerging playwrights.

Each of the staged play readings will be followed by a talk-back with the playwright, plus a reception where audiences will get to mingle with fellow arts enthusiasts and professionals after the show.

The Ingram New Works Project has put Nashville on the map with the National Theatre community for the quality of new plays that emerge from the Nashville Project, and that have gone on to successful, full productions and have earned critical acclaim.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorToday, we continue with our series of interviews, The Play's the Thing, focusing on the four emerging playwrights and their new works which will premiere over the next ten days at the Ingram New Works Festival. Next up is Dean Poynor, whose play The Second Avenue Subway will have its premiere public exposure in Nashville.

About The Second Avenue Subway by Dean Poynor A father tries to teach his son about life and faith as they ride the New York City Subway together over many years - but as the son grows up, they are forced to reckon with the values they once took for granted. Ride along with them and experience their timeless journey to pass on the good and jettison the bad for the next generation.

Why did you decide you wanted to become a playwright? I've been part of the theatre family for a long time. As I have grown up, I've been fortunate to write plays that connect with other people. I've written a lot about my experience as a parent, and as a person of faith in a post-Christian America. I hope my work speaks to people who struggle to see the best in the world, and who keep trying in spite of tremendous obstacles.

Where do you find inspiration? I didn't have to look too far! My play is about a father and son who ride the New York City Subway together for fun on the weekends. I'm a dad, and my son and I have been doing that together for years. In the play the father is able to articulate things about life, faith, and finding goodness in the world that I can only hope I would say. But the chance to reflect on parenting - and the tremendous responsibility of giving the world to the next generation - has helped me come to terms with my role as a father. And it's led me to be more mindful as we make the most of our time together.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorWhat are some of the benefits of being part of the Ingram New Works program? This program is amazing. It's easily one of the most generous, hospitable, and thoughtful new work development initiatives in the country right now. Eppler has brought together playwrights with radically different voices and styles, but he's very careful create an environment where we can share our work in a spirit of openness and celebration. And best of all, the structure of the program provides dedicated time for meals and discussions. These gaps are where the real insight happens. Somehow the human activity of sitting and eating together brings us closer to understanding each other, and it gives a clearer picture of ourselves in the process.

Why should people come see your show during the festival? A lot of plays deal with artists and their relationships with their parents. All of us have been children, of course, and all of us have come to inherit a world that is not entirely of our making. In this play, I really wanted to dig in to my own personal responsibility as a parent. I wanted to explore fatherhood - on its own terms - in a way that allowed it to be both human and transcendent. I hope I've been able to paint a realistic picture that resonates with parents in the audience. And I also hope this play gives encouragement to those of us who are still trying to make the world we were given into what we were always told it could be.

What's next for you? I go back to New York and I'm gonna be riding more trains! Later this summer we have a trip to London and Paris where we plan on exploring the Underground and the Metro. I hope we'll get to see some other sites, too.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorDean Poynor's The Second Avenue Subway is presented May 8 and 14 during Nashville Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Festival at Nashville Children's Theatre. It stars Scott Baker and Joe Mobley.

About Dean Poynor Dean Poynor is a Southern playwright living in New York City. His work has been developed and produced with Visconti Productions (NYC), Mixed Blood Theatre, Nashville Repertory Theatre / Ingram New Works Lab, The Lark, Great Plains Theatre Conference, NY Fringe, The Playwrights' Center (Core Member Apprentice), Kennedy Center, Cairns Festival Australia, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and others, and in residency with Culture Mill (NC), and The Studios of Key West. Dean has received the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation screenplay award, the Helford Prize for Drama, Holland New Voices Playwright Award, and two Shubert Foundation fellowships. He has won New Play Festivals with Centre Stage Greenville, Trustus Theatre, and been a Finalist or Semi-Finalist for a whole bunch of other stuff. BA Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. MFA Carnegie Mellon University. Dean's latest adventure is being a dad. www.deanpoynor.com

About the Ingram New Works Festival

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorTHE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY
By Dean Poynor
May 8 & 14

A father tries to teach his son about life and faith as they ride the New York City Subway together over many years - but as the son grows up, they are forced to reckon with the values they once took for granted. Ride along with them and experience their timeless journey to pass on the good and jettison the bad for the next generation.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorCRYING ON TELEVISION
By R. Eric Thomas
May 9 & 17

Four strangers; one apartment building; unlimited channels. On the fourth floor, a former reality show contestant tries to start over; on the eighth floor a Miranda Hobbes type waits for transformation; in the lobby an amateur detective solves a mystery. And then there's Mackenzie, who says she's just here to watch.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorWELCOME TO THE TAJ PALACE (motel)
By Riti Sachdeva
May 10 & 15

On the edge of a highway on the edge of a city, Rajiv runs the Taj Palace (motel). Sita's got business there. Nina's wants to shut it down. Bhagath Singh Thind's been waiting there for decades. And Jon Wane just might have the key.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorTHE MESSENGERS
By Lindsay Joelle
May 11 & 16

A soldier and a translator blast off on a dangerous mission. A messenger and a refugee strike a deal on an alien planet. A mysterious plague and a love letter gone rogue. A dark comedy about the messages we carry in our bones.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Dean PoynorBecky Nurse of Salem
By Sarah Ruhl
May 18

The great-great-great granddaughter of Rebecca Nurse, a slightly deaf witch hanged in 1692 on Gallow's Hill - which is now a Dunkin' Donuts - struggles with her legacy in this remarkable new play by 2019 Ingram New Works Fellow Sarah Ruhl.

For further details and showtimes for the 2019 Ingram New Works Festival, go to www.nashvillerep.org.


Related Articles View More Nashville Stories   Shows

From This Author Jeffrey Ellis