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THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Lindsay Joelle

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Lindsay Joelle

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 Music City 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 Lindsay Joelle
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 Lindsay JoelleToday, we continue a series of feature stories, focusing on the four emerging playwrights and their new works which will premiere over the next ten days at the Ingram New Works Festival. Today, the spotlight is focused on Lindsay Joelle, whose play The Messengers will have its premiere public exposure in Nashville.

About Lindsay Joelle's The Messengers 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 Messengers will be presented May 11 and 16, as part of Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Festival at Nashville Children's Theatre. The cast includes Karen Sternberg, Josh Inocalla, Meggan Utech, Joe Leitess and Andy Kanies. For further details, go to www.nashvillerep.org.

Why did you decide you wanted to become a playwright? I have a background in musical theatre as a performer and a lyricist/librettist. Reading two anthologies - Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House and Other Plays and Rajiv Joseph's Gruesome Playground Injuries - showed me that there is also profound rhythm and musicality in plays. Their work inspires me to learn as much as I can about how to do this near-impossible craft well. It was a challenge not to fangirl around Sarah Ruhl when she mentored us as this year's Ingram New Works Playwright Fellow. I hope I played it cool...ish, maybe?

Where do you find inspiration? I consider myself a lifelong learner, and I have a particular interest in learning about other peoples' experiences on this planet. My plays typically involve a lot of on-the-ground, person-to-person research - for example, talking to sanitation workers in Manhattan, Chasidic Jews in Brooklyn, and long-haul truckers in Colorado.

What are some of the benefits of being part of the Ingram New Works program? The Ingram New Works program is unparalleled process-oriented support, as well as an artistic home at a preeminent regional theater that opens its arms to new writers and new works. The chance to pick the brain of playwright/dramaturg Nate Eppler, the bottomless hospitality of director of community engagement Amos Glass, and the encouragement and support of artistic director Rene Copeland have been once-in-a-lifetime gifts.

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Lindsay JoelleWhy should people come see your show during the festival? The Messengers is fun, surprising, darkly funny, and is very much a new play in process. I will read the feedback of every audience member who fills out a post-show card, and this will be the only chance to hear the play live before it's released as an original audio play on Audible.

What's next for you? After the Ingram New Works festival, I'm heading to San Francisco, where my play The Garbologists will be in Playwrights Realm's Rough Reading Series May 20 and 21, directed by Jessica Bird Beza.

About Lindsay Joelle Lindsay Joelle is a New York-based playwright, lyricist, and librettist. Plays include TRAYF (Theater J, Penguin Rep), THE GARBOLOGISTS (PlayPenn), A SMALL HISTORY OF AMAL, AGE 7 (Forward Flux/Pratidhwani) and THE PRINCESS OF RIVERSIDE DRIVE (libretto, Vital Theater). She has received an Audible Playwright Commission, EST/Sloan Commission, National New Play Network collaboration grant with Curious Theatre, Rita Goldberg Award for Graduate Playwriting, Irving Zarkower Award, and Kilroys List Honorable Mention. Member of Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Lab and the New Georges Jam, alumna of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, Columbia University (BA), and Hunter (MFA) where she studied under the mentorship of Tina Howe, Arthur Kopit, and Samuel D. Hunter. www.LindsayJoelle.com

About the Ingram New Works Festival

THE PLAY'S THE THING: Ingram New Works Festival's Lindsay JoelleTHE 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 Lindsay JoelleCRYING 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 Lindsay JoelleWELCOME 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 Lindsay JoelleTHE 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 Lindsay JoelleBecky 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.


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