TN Rep Gets First US Regional Rights to ‘The Columnist’

Ingram New Works Festival LogoTennessee Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Festival began Wednesday with a big announcement: it is the first regional theater in the country to receive the rights to produce The Columnist.

The play, now on Broadway starring John Lithgow, is by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn (Proof).  This major new drama was featured in staged reading form as a part of the Ingram New Works Festival in 2010 when Auburn was a New Works Fellow. It premiered on the Great White Way this spring.

It’s rare for rights to be released for a play while it is still on Broadway.

“I’m proud to announce that due to our role in the development of the play, Tennessee Rep has received a special release to produce The Columnist, and we are the first theatre outside of Broadway to be granted the rights for this incredible new work!” Tennessee Rep Producing Artistic Director René D, Copeland told an large audience gathered at NPT’s Studio A.  “This underscores our commitment to bringing this community the best new plays out there, so we will close Tennessee Rep’s 2012-13 season with the regional premiere of this play, the timing of which will also serve to kick off next season’s Ingram New Works Festival.”

The Columnist will replace Time Stands Still on Tennessee Rep’s 2012-13 season schedule and will run from April 20 – May 4 (with preview performances on April 18 and 19).  Tickets are currently available for this production by subscription only at tennesseerep.org or by calling (615) 782-6560; single tickets will become available to the public on August 6.

David Auburn’s The Columnist is a theatrical portrait of legendary and controversial Washington, D.C.-based journalist Joseph Alsop. Auburn’s plays in addition to Proof and The Columnist include An Upset, The Journals of Mihail Sebastian, and Skyscraper. His film The Girl in the Park, which he wrote and directed, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007. Other film credits include the The Lake House (2005).

The Ingram New Works Fellowship, through the direct support of Tennessee Rep co-founder Martha R. Ingram, was created as the centerpiece of the New Works program, which provides an opportunity for theater artists to develop new theater works while in residency with  Tennessee Rep.

“This is a landmark opportunity for Tennessee Repertory Theatre and for professional theatre in Middle Tennessee,” Ingram said in a written statement.”I could not be more pleased that The Columnist — a play born out of the Ingram New Works Festival — is not only on Broadway now but also making its national premiere right here in Nashville.  New work is the life force of every art form and it is particularly thrilling to be a part of the birth of such an important piece of theatre and for the Nashville community to make such a positive contribution to the American theatre landscape as a whole.”

For more information on the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, please visit www.tennesseerep.org.

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About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for ArtNowNashville.com from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (www.americantheatrecritics.org).