Fall 2022 Guide: Performing Arts | Cover stories

The Welkin

The famous British playwright Lucy Kirkwood (Chimera, children) is known for his writings on big issues and big ideas. It is therefore particularly satisfying to have his percussive game The Welkin receive its US premiere courtesy of Nashville Story Garden – a small but mighty theater company known for making big, bold moves.

Set in 18th century England, The Welkin centers on Sally Poppy, a young woman who has been sentenced to death for the gruesome murder of a child. But when she claims to be pregnant, a “jury of matrons” is removed from their household duties to determine whether Poppy is telling the truth or simply trying to save her own skin. It’s an ambitious tale, of course. And as always, Kirkwood is eager to delve into the larger questions of truth, power, and justice.

“The play may be set in 1759, but it’s not a must,” says director Halena Kays, citing the work’s dark, compelling humor and surprisingly modern themes. “I really don’t see it as a historical piece. For me, it’s more of a thriller – a page-turner. There is so much information about what has changed and what has not changed for women over these many years. And it takes a hard look at how society views and values ​​the work we do.

“[Kirkwood] goes into the smallest details of the daily lives of these women, and it’s through that lens that she’s able to ask these really big questions about what makes us human,” Kays continues. “It’s not just a women’s story, it’s a very human story. And it might feel heavy at first, but there’s such a lightness to the way these women connect and interact. There’s a such specificity in these characters that you instantly recognize them. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, these are definitely people I know.’ ”

Kays says she’s happy to be back in Nashville, having directed NSG’s excellent 2017 production of Love song.

“I’ve always been so impressed with the wealth of acting talent here in Nashville,” says Kays, a Chicago-based director, designer, performer and educator. She was an assistant professor of directing at MTSU before becoming an assistant professor of graduate directing and acting at Northwestern University in 2018. “Nashville Story Garden has built a real community of actors, and we are fortunate to have such an amazing cast. ”

This cast is a bit like a who’s-who of local talent, including Rachel Agee, Jessica Anderson, Lauren Berst, Rona Carter, Diego Gomez, Destinee Monét Johnson, Candace-Omnira LaFayette, Melodie Madden Adams, Megan Murphy Chambers, Matthew Rose , Melinda Sewak, Tamara Todres, Inez Vega-Romero, Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva and Ayla Williams.

“There is so much talent and heart in this group,” says Kays. “It was wonderful to see the different generations connecting – acknowledging and inviting each other. And it’s also interesting to see how much these actors and their own experiences bring to the work.”

Kays says she can’t wait for the public to experience The Welkin at Riverside Revival – a former church that has been redesigned into a state-of-the-art event space.

“I really like that it’s a community space with a story of its own,” she says. “After all, the play is largely set in a public space or meeting room, so I feel like this venue has the potential to elevate and really support the story. And I hope that having the audience there, with us in that space, will make them feel like they’re part of the conversation.

Other upcoming performances:

• Nashville Opera BohemianSeptember 22-24 at Jackson Hall at TPAC (nashvilleopera.org)

• Leland Gantt Rhapsody in BlackSeptember 23-25 ​​at the Andrew Johnson Theater at TPAC (tpac.org)

• Nashville Ballet CinderellaOctober 6-9 at the James K. Polk Theater at TPAC (nashvilleballet.com)

• A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham An untitled loveOctober 20-22 at OZ Arts (ozartsnashville.org)

• Nashville Representative The cakeOctober 21-30 at the Andrew Johnson Theater at TPAC (nashvillerep.org)

• Nashville Opera The wayOctober 28-30 at the Noah Liff Opera Center (nashvilleopera.org)

HadesvilleNovember 1-6 at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall (tpac.org)

• Bridge Ensemble’s Actors When we were young and fearlessNovember 4-13 at Actors Bridge Studio (actorsbridge.org)

• Nashville BalletLive in studio ANovember 4-13 at the Martin Center for Nashville Ballet (nashvilleballet.com)

• New Dialect and American Modern Opera Company’s Broken theaterNovember 17-19 at OZ Arts (ozartsnashville.org)

• Martha Redbone hill of bonesDecember 2-3 at OZ Arts (ozartsnashville.org)

Fall 2022 Guide

From festivals and markets to concerts, theatre, films and more, here are some the best of autumn events