Actors Bridge Ensemble will present the world premiere of Outside Paradise by Founding Artistic Director Bill Feehely and the ABE supported by a Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission Creation Grant, according to a news release. The show runs Nov. 9-18 at Belmont’s Black Box Theater (1575 Compton Ave. just off Belmont Blvd.) as the company’s annual collaboration with the Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance.
Outside Paradise follows the life and love of literary legends F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald through the jazz age and into infamy. Zelda, the original “flapper” and Scott, leader of the “lost generation,” inscribed their lives on the American psyche in the years between the World War I Armistice of 1918 and the stock market crash of 1929. This new work examines the volatile passion, deep commitment and remarkable work of this iconic pair and their closest confidants, according to its creators.
“Having listened to ‘The Great Gatsby’ as I drove to New York a few years ago, I was struck by its economy and beauty in a way I never got in high school,” Feehely says. “As I investigated the lives of F. Scott and Zelda, I was reminded that the works of many of our greatest American artists were forged at great personal cost and that the boundaries where art meets life are often paper thin.”
“Metro Arts passionately supports the life and work of local artists. One of the best ways we do so is through creation grants that fund new works, performances and exhibits. Outside Paradise, a new play from the Actors Bridge Ensemble, was the recipient of such a grant,” Jennifer Gilligan Cole, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, explains. “This vibrant and exciting work explores the frenetic and often destructive lives of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“More than that it shows the power of arts investment. With just $20,000, Actors Bridge has drafted a new full length stage play, cast and produced the production and ensured they will have future revenue through licensing. They are creating local jobs for cast and crew and providing affordable, high quality theatre for Belmont and the surrounding community. Perhaps most critical, this ‘investment capital’ inspires and enables our brightest and most innovative minds to stay here in Music City to write, build, design, and stage innovative creative works.”
“The world premiere of Outside Paradise and the annual collaboration with Actors Bridge Ensemble presents a unique opportunity for the students at Belmont to experience the creation of an important new piece of theatre in the context and surrounded by the professional community for which they strive to be members,” says Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance Chairman Paul Gatrell about the sixth annual collaboration between the department and ABE. “This collaboration places students on the front lines of a brand new story-telling experience as they work to gain the professional skills exhibited onstage and backstage by the Actors Bridge Ensemble members.”
Outside Paradise stars Actors Bridge veteran and Belmont alum Clay Steakley as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Steakley is now a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. “As Bill and I discussed our ‘ideal F. Scott’, Bill mentioned Clay’s name,” Producing Artistic Director Vali Forrister recalls. “I gasped out loud! Clay did phenomenal work on our stage years ago in Never the Sinner and Boy Gets Girl. I am so grateful that his love of Actors Bridge and new plays coincided with availability in his busy schedule to allow him to ‘come home’ for this landmark in the life of our theatre.”
Well-regarded Nashville actor Jennifer Richmond will play Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. The production also features Ricardo Andres Puerta and Luke Hatmaker as well as Belmont BFA performance students Adrienne Hall, Kallen Prosterman, Ashley Glore and DJ Clark.
Since 1996, Actors Bridge has been a force on Nashville’s cultural landscape. It trains a growing number of actors who go on to perform on local, regional and national stages as well as film and television. Having worked with more than 3,000 students there are few local productions that do not include a performer in some way influenced by Actors Bridge training.
The professional troupe has produced over 60 plays, including 14 world premieres and 35 Nashville premieres. The company is led by co-founders Forrister and Feehely. Outside Paradise is the fifth play authored in part by Feehely to premiere at Actors Bridge. For more information visit www.actorsbridge.org.
Friday, November 9th at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 10th at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 10th at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 11th at 2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 14th at 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 15th at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 16th at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 18th at 2:00 p.m.
General Admission – $18; Non-Belmont Students – $15; Belmont Faculty, Staff, Alumni with ID and Senior Citizens – $12; Actors Equity Association Members w/ID – $5; Belmont Students – Free for convocation performances. Tickets available online at: http://outside-paradise.eventbrite.com or at the door.
*Logo and image of Clay Steakley courtesy Actors Bridge Ensemble.