Missouri by Hartley Wright
“If I’m not engaged in a creative endeavor, I am an unhappy human.” Meg Phillips Crespy must rarely be unhappy, because she is always creating new work for the theatre. An accomplished self-producing playwright, composer and lyricist who lives in Columbia, Missouri, Meg continues, “I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember…I feel moved to tell stories about underdogs, or others whose story would otherwise be lost to time.”
I can’t over-emphasize how much I appreciate Meg’s creative work. As a playwright, she strives to write women as strong, interesting, and vibrant characters. Such is the case in her most recent full-length play, Mostly Sweet. The play was awarded a spot in New York City’s Cherry Lane Theatre’s Tongues series in 2013. Last November, Meg won the 2018 Missouri Stories International Screenwriting Fellowship. Her winning script, Flyover, was a television pilot she wrote based on the play. These awards honoring both scripts are true proclamations of her writing talent. Having her work be part of Cherry Lane’s Alternative Reading Series, “was a big boost for me,” she said. “It was one of the first things I hadn’t made happen through self-production.” As for the screenwriting fellowship, Meg declares, “Because the scripts were read blind, I’m confident I won based on the quality of my work. Which is a really wonderful feeling, and when I reach a setback I can draw on it to keep me motivated.”
When Meg writes for the stage, she keeps three goals in mind for those who see her work: “I have always hoped for audiences that they are entertained, so sometimes I write things just to make people laugh…I also want people to leave thinking about what they’ve seen. I use the term enlightened, but it doesn’t mean audiences have to learn new things, more that they think about the world in new ways. I have a third hope that audiences will leave inspired to help create change or, at the very least, aware that change is needed.”
The desire to motivate change has been evident in several of Phillips Crespy’s dramatic works. Two years ago, she conceived and created a cabaret-style show portraying what it is like to live with mental illness. Her desire for A Glorious Mess was that audiences would learn not only how to recognize the signs of but be inspired to end the stigma attached to mental disorders. Regarding the production, Meg shared, “The response to A Glorious Mess was more than I could have hoped. I had so much feedback from people who had dealt with mental illness themselves or had family members or friends with a mental illness.” Audiences have also been moved by Meg’s one-act and short film addressing our health care system.
At the beginning of this year, Meg founded Guerl-rilla Theatre, a performance company designed to focus on femme roles and empower women in theatre. For its inaugural six-show season of staged readings with all female-identifying performers, Phillips Crespy has adapted scripts in the public domain. Her writing is humorous and mindful of women and gender equality, with messages of strength and solidarity for women. “For Guerl-rilla theatre,” she says, “it doesn’t matter what the gender breakdown of characters is, since women are playing all the roles. But we are an exception, and the theatre desperately needs better roles for women in general.”
Meg has also written two musicals for young audiences: The Wind in the Willows and Before Nevermore: A Poe Adventure. She also wrote the music and lyrics for The Zenith Escape, which won the 2017 Jackie White National Playwriting Competition. The book for The Zenith Escape was written by her husband, playwright David Crespy, who served as the previous DG representative for this region. All three musicals are available through Leicester Bay Theatricals. You can contact Meg Phillips Crespy through Facebook.