FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 2010
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919, or firstname.lastname@example.org
MTSU PROFESSOR & ALUM AMONG PLAYWRIGHTS CHOSEN FOR RESIDENCY
Original Plays by Claudia Barnett, Ross Brooks to be Staged at Nashville Festival
(MURFREESBORO)—“No. 731 Degraw Street, Brooklyn or Emily Dickinson's Sister,” a full-length, original play by MTSU’s Claudia Barnett, is one of a handful of new works that will be staged during the Ingram New Works Festival in Nashville.
Set for April 28-May 8, the festival will feature plays that, in part, were created by participants in the Ingram New Works Lab, a collective of Tennessee playwrights-in-residence who have worked together throughout the season on their plays.
A member of MTSU’s English faculty, Barnett said the in-residence playwrights have worked with David Auburn, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Proof,” as part of the newly created lab experience to create their respective plays.
“Last summer I was invited to apply for a new program that sounded too good to be true and turned out to be better than I could have imagined: the Ingram New Works residency at Tennessee Repertory Theatre,” Barnett said.
“The plan was for seven playwrights-in-residence all to write new full-length plays; to attend monthly script meetings; to work with actors, directors and other Tennessee Rep professionals; to participate in an intensive, weeklong symposium with Ingram New Works Fellow David Auburn… and, finally, to have a New Works Festival of staged readings of our plays.”
Thus far, “Everything’s miraculously happened according to plan,” she added, “and we’re about to start rehearsals for the festival.
Prior to the theater fest, all the playwrights will participate in a free and open meet ‘n’ greet with the playwrights at 6:30 p.m. April 22 in the Community Meeting Room at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in the Mall at Green Hills, 2126 Abbott Martin Road, Nashville.
As for Barnett’s newly completed work, “No. 731 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, or Emily Dickinson’s Sister” is the story of Kate Stoddard, who murdered Charles Goodrich in 1873 after he told her they weren’t really married and had her evicted from his Brooklyn brownstone in a blizzard.
“Kate’s struggles to maintain her sanity and her identity, both before and after she shot her one true love three times in the head, are the subject of this play,” Barnett explained, “which moves backward and forward through time and invokes a poetry of madness.”
In addition to Barnett, Ross Brooks, MTSU alumnus, also is among the seven playwrights-in-residence. Currently the artistic director of the People's Branch Theatre in Nashville, Brooks’ original play, “Supernova,” will be staged at 7 p.m. May 5 at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, 25 Middleton St. Barnett’s work, meanwhile, will be presented at the same locale at 7 p.m. May 3.
Per Brooks, his play “is a little sci-fi, a little family drama, a little thriller and a whole lot of tension,” he said. “I kind of had this idea about how people would deal with the end of the world if they actually knew it was coming.”
A 1997 graduate of MTSU’s speech and theatre program, “I pretty much got my start as a playwright at MTSU,” shared Brooks, who noted that Barnett “was actually one of my first playwriting teachers, so it's kind of fun now to be considered a colleague instead of a student.”
In fact, he continued, “One of the original pieces that I produced with People's Branch last season, ‘Three Gods Walk into a Bar,’ was conceived and begun as part of one of Claudia's classes (that) she co-taught with (MTSU faculty member) Deborah Anderson, and it was a very exciting, open and energetic writing process for the entire class.
“Having such a positive experience in class at MTSU is exactly what encouraged me to continue studying playwriting in graduate school at Boston University,” Brooks said, “so that's where it all began.”
For more information about the Ingram New Works Festival, including the full list of playwrights and slated readings, please visit www.tennesseerep.org.
With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.
• ATTENTION, MEDIA: To request interviews with Barnett or Brooks, please contact Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU at email@example.com.