Reality TV, immigration, intergalactic war and more inspire Nashville Rep’s 10th Ingram New Works Festival

Ingram New Works Festival

Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Festival.

Nashville Repertory Theatre has announced the lineup of new plays that will make up their tenth annual Ingram New Works Festival running May 8-18 at Nashville Children’s Theatre. The event, covering two weekends, celebrates new plays developed via the year-round initiative housed at Nashville Repertory Theatre.

This year’s Festival will feature new plays by Ingram New Works Lab Playwrights Lindsay Joelle, Dean Poynor, Riti Sachdeva, and R. Eric Thomas and a new work by Pulitzer Prize- Finalist and 2019 Ingram New Works Fellow Sarah Ruhl.

Selected through a highly competitive national search, these five dynamic playwrights represent a snapshot of American theatre’s next wave. The range of the artists’ viewpoints and theatrical styles creates a spectrum of experiences for festival-goers that will give Nashville a taste of the extraordinary contemporary art being made across the country.

“These five brand new plays are each in their own way grappling with the question of who we are, and maybe more importantly, who do we want to be? These are plays about telling our own stories, finding new connections, and finally finding the places we belong,” says Nate Eppler, Director of the Ingram New Works Project.

This year’s plays cover a wide variety of topics and will take audiences to an array of unusual locations. Sarah Ruhl’s play Becky Nurse of Salem takes us to Salem, Massachusetts, where the great-great-great granddaughter of a witch struggles with her family legacy. The Messengers by Lindsay Joelle features a soldier and translator on a dangerous mission in the middle of an intergalactic conflict. The Second Avenue Subway by Dean Poynor is the tale of a father teaching his son about life and faith as they ride the New York City Subway together over many years. Riti Sachdeva takes us to a motel on the edge of a highway on the edge of a city where past and present collide in Welcome to the Taj Palace (Motel). R. Eric Thomas brings together four strangers including a former reality show contestant trying to start over in the comedy Crying on Television.

Playwrights are encouraged to become a part of the Nashville artistic community during their year-long residency. Playwrights are provided with connections to local artists, individually- tailored support from Nashville Repertory Theatre staff, travel, housing, and the kind of radical hospitality you can only get in Nashville.

“Whether it’s music or food or art, Nashville has always been an amazing place for culture and the people who make it. We go out of our way to show our visiting artists how welcoming and inspiring our city can be,” says Director of Community Engagement and Ingram New Works Hospitality Manager Amos Glass.

Plays developed in the 10 years of the Ingram New Works Project have gone on to numerous awards and productions across the country. Long Lost by Donald Margulies, developed in the 2014/15 Ingram New Works Fellowship, premiering this May at Manhattan Theatre Club, and This Red Planet by Nate Eppler, developed in the 2017/18 Ingram New Works Lab premiering at Nashville Repertory Theatre in February 2020, are just two recent examples.

“Each year we bring extraordinary writers to Nashville, and each year Nashville helps us launch their new works out to the rest of the country. And this year will be no exception,” says Eppler. “You get to see them first, right here in Nashville, before everybody else does. “

Performances of the 2019 Ingram New Works Festival begin on May 8 at 7 p.m. at Nashville Children’s Theatre located at 25 Middleton Street in Nashville and continue nightly through Saturday May 18. Tickets and complete performance schedules are available at


Sarah Ruhl received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. An alum of 13P and of New Dramatists, she won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006 and most recently, the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. She was the recipient of the PEN Center Award for a mid-career playwright, the Whiting Writers award, the Feminist Press’ Forty under Forty award, and a Lilly Award. She proudly served on the executive council of the Dramatist’s Guild for three years, and she is currently on the faculty at Yale School of Drama. Her book of essays on the theater and motherhood, “100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write,” was a Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. Sarah’s plays include Stage Kiss; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee for best new play); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play (PEN American Award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes Award); Melancholy Play (a musical with Todd Almond); Eurydice; Orlando; Demeter in the City (NAACP nomination); Late: a cowboy song; Three Sisters; Dear Elizabeth; The Oldest Boy; and most recently, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday; and How To Transcend a Happy Marriage.


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.


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.


As a theatre maker and cultural worker, Riti Sachdeva has been creating art in some shape, pattern, or rhythm for twenty five years. Incorporating text, installation, and dance into her writing and performance, she straddles the practices and conventions of traditional U.S. theater, performance art, and international perspectives and approaches to theater. Riti has been a playwriting fellow with The Public Theater’s EWG, WP Theater Lab, and the Dramatists Guild. Her plays have been developed by The Civilians, PlayWrights Center, National New Play Network, U of Hawai’i, Working Theater, Centerstage Baltimore, and Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. She is recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Quest for Peace award for her play Parts of Parts & Stitches and a TCG travel grant to begin adapting her play Suicide Seed to the kathakali dance theatre form. Her play The Rug Dealer made the 2016 Kilroys List and was a finalist for the BAPF. Acting highlights include work with National Hispanic Cultural Center, PopUp Theatrics, Honest Accomplice, HBO, Disney, lots of cool indie films, an Outstanding One Act award from Planet Connections Festival for her solo show Scene/Unseen. Riti recently workshopped her new solo show, Behind Every Favorite Song is an Untold Woman, in NYC and Belize.


Eric Thomas is a playwright and the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and D.C. He is also a Senior Staff Writer for where he writes “Eric Reads the News,” a daily current events and culture humor column. He won the 2016 Barrymore Award for Best New Play for Time is on Our Side and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award. He is the recipient of a 2017/2018 National New Play Network Commission and is at work on his debut memoir-in-essays, entitled Here For It, which will be published by Ballantine Books. Recent productions include Mrs Harrison (Azuka Theater, Barrymore nomination: Best New Play), MIRIAM1234 (City Theater Miami) and Time is on Our Side (About Face Theater & Simpatico Theater, finalist: Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award). He has been commissioned by the Arden Theater Company, Simpatico Theater, and Act II Playhouse.


The Ingram New Works Project is a nationally recognized new play development program designed to empower new voices in the American theatre with transformative support and expand the creative capacity of Nashville by connecting artists and audiences across extraordinary new works. The 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. Since 2009, the Ingram New Works Project has supported the development of over sixty new plays for the stage that have gone on to development, awards, and production across the United States. The continuing journey of each of those plays and playwrights is made possible through the early support of Nashville audiences and artists and the Ingram New Works Project.

Since 1985, Nashville Repertory Theatre has been a critically acclaimed regional theater, creating the highest quality professional productions and serving as a cultural, educational, and economic resource in Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities. Nashville Rep produces work that is designed, built, and rehearsed in Nashville by highly skilled actors, designers, directors, and technicians. A non-profit theatre, Nashville Rep is committed to bringing classic and contemporary theatre to Nashville that inspires empathy and prods intellectual and emotional engagement in audiences.

Page Tags: