In 2013, Playhouse on the Square planted a seed when the theater company began to aggressively search for original plays to develop. Now it's time for a winter harvest. The first winner of the NewWorks@TheWorks series is We Live Here by New Orleans playwright Hal Ellis Clark, which receives its world premiere Friday, January 2nd, at TheatreWorks. Set in 2011, We Live Here is a play that looks at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It tells the story of an African-American couple from New Orleans' lower 9th Ward that wins a new home in Metairie, a Crescent City suburb.
"I live in Metairie," says actor Curtis C. Jackson, describing the area as having been "David Duke" country, when the former KKK leader ran for governor. Jackson plays a civil rights leader who comes to town when the newly relocated couple receives what appears to be a warning.
Jackson, who developed an affinity for new works while pursuing his MFA at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, was once a familiar face on Memphis stages. He worked at Playhouse on the Square in the '90s and left the company in 1995 to pursue other endeavors following a production of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. Jordan Nichols, who spearheads the NewWorks program, invited him back to perform in We Live Here.
"I'd love to come back more often," says Jackson, who's eying a role in The Gospel at Colonus, opening at Playhouse on the Square in June 2015.
Playhouse on the Square is currently accepting scripts for its third "NewWorks@TheWorks" competition. Six finalists will receive staged readings of their plays during the 2015-16 season. The two winners will receive $500 each, and their plays will be given full productions during Playhouse on the Square's 2016-17 season. More information about the competition is available at playhouseonthesquare.org.