Murfreesboro Little Theatre Taking New Play to NYC

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Murfreesboro Little Theatre Logo

Murfreesboro Little Theatre (MLT), one of the oldest community theaters in Tennessee, will be taking a show on the road to New York City in June. The 503c3 organization will be producing “This House is Not a Home” by Kyle Thomas for the Rogue Theater Festival.

“[The Rogue Theater Festival] highlights New Works from playwrights across the country,” said MLT President Emma Hawkins. “Playwrights submit a script to the festival, and if their play is selected, they get to have their pieces performed in the festival at Theatre Row on 42nd Street.”

Since the log cabin that was MLT’s home for many years came down, the now traveling theater company has been producing at least one New Work every season. Kyle Thomas, a local playwright, was introduced to MLT last year by Dr. Claudia Barnett from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

“He … had his one-man show, “A Portrait of a Young Man,” adapted from a screenplay he wrote of the same name, and was selected for last year’s Rogue Theater Festival,” explained Hawkins. “He performed it here in September at Walnut House as a fundraiser for MLT, and we had already decided to have his second play, “This House is Not a Home,” as a part of our 62nd Season. When it was selected to be a part of the festival this year, Kyle asked if we wanted to take a show to New York, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so of course we jumped on it.”

The play explores the idea of two characters who know each other intimately, but ultimately do not know each other at all, according to an interview with Thomas in “Broadway World.” In the same article, he says that he hopes the audience will connect with his characters and their struggles as they descend and unravel, and that it will be a visceral experience. The essence of the play is that we all tell the truth very slowly.

While the play has gone through several workshops, its first full production will be at the festival. The production will be a one-night-only performance in New York City at the Abingdon Theater on June 13. Produced by Hawkins and directed by Shane Lowery and Britt Penevolpe, the actors in this piece are Alec Lanter and Jack Seage.

“We will all be going [with] Kyle Thomas,” said Hawkins. “We will be joined by multiple members of the MLT Board of Directors and some of our members. We would love for anyone that needs an excuse to get away for a long weekend to come up to New York and be in the audience on June 13th!”

According to his bio on the Appalachian Theater Festival website, “[Thomas’] passion for theater began at a young age when he first discovered his father’s cast album of The Phantom of the Opera. He fed that passion as a performer in high school and community theater productions. His love of history inspired his first screenplay, “The First Debate”, about the first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. He wrote several more screenplays – being dubbed a “writer to watch” by “The Black List” – before returning his writing energy to his first love: the stage…[H]is most recent play, “Clocks Are Likes Angels”, is being featured in the 2023 Appalachian Playwriting Festival.

Rogue Theater Festival is back making waves for emerging playwrights in its fifth annual theater festival,” according to “Broadway World.” “This hybrid theater festival offers opportunities for playwrights to have live performances … at Theatre Row in New York City and opportunities for playwrights from around the globe to stream their show via ShowTix4U… Rogue is a self-described ‘mom and pops’ theater festival where the emphasis is always on the playwright and supporting them in the exciting process of putting up a show. Since its inception, Rogue has been able to present over 150 new shows and work with over 500 artists in New York City and around the globe…This year, Rogue is also incredibly proud to be working in association with the longstanding Abingdon Theatre Company.”

Established over 30 years ago, Abingdon Theatre Company develops and produces critically acclaimed brave new works.

Murfreesboro Little Theatre is the oldest community theater in Rutherford County, having been established in 1962 by Jim and Polly Ridley, Nan and Hal Christiansen, Bren and BJ Huggins, and Margaret “Dumpy” Waller. Over the past 60 years, MLT has provided accessible, inclusive theatrical entertainment for the Rutherford County community across the area. In its history, MLT has occupied several different locations, including the current Center for the Arts building, Alvin C. York Medical Center, Woodfin’s Funeral Home, the log cabin on Ewing Blvd, Mills-Pate Arts Center, Walnut House, Linebaugh Library, and many more.