The Brown/Trinity Repertory Theatre, a summer program that cultivates promising young playwrights, is set to launch this year's slate of three plays on July 7. Expectations are high.
After all, the theatre was the birthplace of the first and second most produced plays at professional theaters in the country in the 2009-10 season.
According to American Theatre magazine's annual tally, which doesn't include Shakespeare or holiday perennials like A Christmas Carol, the most-produced play is Brown graduate Peter Nachtrieb's boom, an end-of-the-world fantasy. That's followed up by a second-place tie that includes the Rep-developed Speech & Debate, by Brown alumnus Stephen Karam.
Brown graduates unaffiliated with the Rep feature in the rankings, too. That second-place, three-way tie also features Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone. And in third place is the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, with the book written by Brown's own Rachel Sheinkin.
So that gives four of the top five in the popularity poll credentials that trace to the top of College Hill. What's behind the boom?
"Experimentation is key," according to Lowry Marshall, Brown Professor of Theater. "Every playwright, both undergraduate and graduate, is encouraged to find his or her own voice."
"Brown alumni playwrights range from leaders in the avant-garde to leaders in the commercial theatre and in film and television writing," she continues. (In Hollywood, they're known as the Brown Mafia.) "The only common denominator is talent and determination. Oh, and love for the nourishing community that is Brown theater."
Marshall heads the Rep, which she formed in 2004. This year, one former Brown MFA and three former Brown undergrads have contributed work. In addition, while Marshall has worked as a dramaturg and text advisor on many of the Rep's plays, this year for the first time she also has been formally working on one as a writer.
This year's trio of plays is as follows: Dog Park, by Paul Grellong (July 7-10, 30, and 31); This Is My Office, by Andy Bragan (July 14-17, 29, and 31); and Baz and Me, a musical by Nate Sloan, Andy Hertz, and Marshall (July 21-24, 28, and 31).
"I'm proud to say that almost all of our playwrights and actors and directors do very well indeed," Marshall brags. "Our website is literally teeming with success stories."