The Dramatist Blog

 

Tennessee: The Woven Theatre
  • James Rudolph and Simba Woodard in Opus by River Timms.
    James Rudolph and Simba Woodard in Opus by River Timms.
  • Actresses Caitlin Brockell and Miranda Peppin telling secrets in Truth/Dare by Tori Keenan-Zelt.
    Actresses Caitlin Brockell and Miranda Peppin telling secrets in Truth/Dare by Tori Keenan-Zelt.
  • River Timms, Playwright in Residence at Woven Theatre.
    River Timms, Playwright in Residence at Woven Theatre.

In 2016, three Belmont University students recognized a growing need for theatrical diversity and new plays in their college town, better known as Nashville. Collectively, these graduates established a strong mission statement to “provide unique, artistic opportunities for young people to explore and find their artistic identity and tell the stories they are passionate about.” Since then, the team has done exactly that.

I sat down with A.D. Timms at Bongo Java, across from their alma mater. Timms is one of the four current, overseeing, movers and shakers at Woven Theatre. They also serve as the Literary Manager, Artistic Council Member, and Playwright-in-Residence.

“We joke that Woven is the queer theatre in town because each of our seasons has showcased new plays with prominent LGBT characters…most of us that work with Woven just identify as LGBT in one way or another, and we want to see our stories onstage. That’s my goal as a gay and genderqueer playwright, so Opus was written with that in mind. It meant a lot to me to see a gay person onstage… it meant a lot to see my lived experience come to life and have people actually like it,” they said.

Timms was referring to the 2018 world premiere of their play: OPUS: The Totally Real Not Made Up Story of a Boy and His Skeleton. You can read all about Opus, his skeleton and the animal world Timms created on NPX.

The Woven Theatre’s commitment to new, exciting stories and budding artists is apparent. In the same year, the creative team also regionally premiered Tori Keenan-Zelt’s Truth/Dare. I asked Zelt about her experience. She said, “It was a delight to work with a young team that was well versed in environmental production... Watching it from my beanbag on the floor was like joining the sleepover of my life.”

In addition to world and regional productions, Woven hosts The Loom: a new play reading series, in which Timms curates and said they often choose plays from the series for their season.

Last year, Woven Theatre did just that! As well as producing another world premiere by Timms: Tall Tales. Timms said, “My relationship with Woven is integral to me ever becoming a playwright…Opus is basically the reason why I’m Resident Playwright and a DG member!”

That’s a lot of new plays, a lot of Guild members and a much-needed outlet for thespians in Music City. The Woven Theatre is in residency at the Barber Shop Theatre, whose space is home to six companies, serving as a cost-efficient space for Nashville artists to perform.

New-fangled, fiery voices exist, and the Woven Theatre has focused on making them heard. Get ready to celebrate and hear them reverberate in the 2020 season! For updates and submission opportunities, check out their website: www.woventheatre.org.

tennessee@dramatistsguild.com

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