“New work is the life force of every art form.”
These words by Martha Ingram are at the heart of Nashville Repertory Theatre’s annual Ingram New Works Project, a program created in 2009 to support new plays from up-and-coming playwrights.
Over 60 new plays have gone on to development, production, and national recognition since the program’s inception. And, when they launch into the national theatre scene, they take a little bit of Nashville with them.
Now, during social distancing, the ongoing professional development program has launched New Works 615, an extension focused on developing local voices, and a continuation of their shift to online programming that offers art and education to enrich and inspire our community.
Uniquely designed to support local artists, New Works 615 gives Nashville-area playwrights the opportunity and space to experiment, connect, and learn with no tuition fees or barriers to access. Eleven local writers will receive tailor-made developmental support and mentorship by Nashville Rep’s playwright-in-residence Nate Eppler while they develop a new project.
“I’ve always believed the best way to respond to a moment is with the language of that moment,” Eppler says. “And new plays are sometimes the best way we can process the world we find ourselves in.”
Writers will create a new work that reflects our current moment and tackles the unique complications that arise from it. The cohort will receive project guidance, weekly master classes, and will be provided access to key Rep staff and connection with other Nashville artists.
The inaugural cohort of New Works 615 features Brooke Bethel, Eric Butler, Brooke Ferguson, Taylor James Foster, Josh Inocalla, Erica Jo Lloyd, Evelyn O’Neal Brush, Mary Siroky, Nikkita Staggs, River Timms, and Becky Wahlstrom.
The group includes several long-time actors in the Ingram New Works Project, volunteers for the Ingram New Works Festival, a current intern of the Ingram New Works Project, and a current Nashville Rep staff member.
The cohort will leave the program with new work for the stage, as well as an advanced understanding of modern playmaking techniques. In addition, the hope is to provide these artists with “the tools to inspire other local artists and expand the creative capacity of the city by encouraging production, development, and further exploration based on the things they have learned while part of the project.”