By Whitney Hale
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 19, 2017) — Two weeks from today, a new play by Raegan Payne will have its world premiere in Lexington with four performances running Nov. 2-4, at the Farish Theater at Lexington Public Library's central location in downtown Lexington. “Timeless” is a dark sci-fi comedy in which four scientists have discovered the fountain of youth in a new stem cell procedure. In one night they question history, women’s place in science and the value of time as they wrestle with the fate of an overcrowded Earth.
“Timeless” won the biennial Prize for Women Playwrights from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, chosen by internationally renowned playwright Martyna Majok. Independently produced and directed by Eric Seale, in collaboration with Kentucky Women Writers Conference and the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, “Timeless” features a top-notch cast of Kentucky actors whose names will be familiar to local theater audiences: Debbie Sharp as Wanda, Forrest Loeffler as Austin, Bailey Preston as Becca, and Darius Fatemi as Christopher. Born in Murray and raised in Louisville, Payne is the first playwright with Kentucky roots to win the contest.
Dramatizing medical research as a subject came naturally to Payne. “I was pre-med in school for a bit, and was always really strong in the biological sciences. In January 2014, a Japanese team of scientists published an article in Nature announcing the very breakthrough we talk about in ‘Timeless,’ the ability to rapidly reproduce stem cells. They later had to retract the announcement, but I was still fascinated. Stem cell technology has the potential to repair joint, muscle, spinal cords, almost anything in the human body. It could drastically change the quality of life.”
For this fourth cycle of the biennial contest, over 180 submissions were received from 31 different states in the U.S. plus Canada and New Zealand. A panel of Lexington theater professionals — Alana Ghent, Robin Kunkel, Eric Seale, Deborah Sharpe and Jessica York — reviewed the submissions blindly, with playwrights’ identities hidden, narrowing the field to five finalists. From those finalists Majok chose “Timeless.”
Payne is an award-winning playwright whose plays are regularly produced and performed in the U.S. and internationally. She just completed her newest play, “The Dying Declaration of Madge Oberholtzer,” as part of the Scripps Ranch Theatre’s New Works Studio in San Diego. Payne is also a proud member of Ammunition Theatre Company’s writing group in Los Angeles. Next year she is looking forward to being part of Iceland’s Klaustrid Artists Residency. Payne currently lives in Southern California. To find out more about the playwright and her work, follow her Twitter account at https://twitter.com/raeganpayne or visit her blog at http://thegoodmuse.com.
Director Eric Seale is known for mounting challenging plays and developing new works, especially from contemporary women playwrights such as Carson Kreitzer, Sarah Ruhl and Laura Wade. He produced and directed the previous winner of this prize, “The Silent Woman” by Lydia Blaisdell, which ran two years ago to sold-out audiences. Throughout his career, Seale has been drawn to stories that explore science, history and society, including his 2012 production of “The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
Performance dates of “Timeless” are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2-4, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Farish Theater. The Saturday matinee will be followed by a conversation with the playwright. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students with a valid ID. In addition, $8 rush tickets will be available for students 15 minutes before curtain. To purchase tickets call 859-257-2874 or visit online at https://womenwriters.as.uky.edu/playwriting-prize.
The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is an annual event known for bringing notable women writers, including playwrights, to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions. A program housed in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is made possible in part by continued community partnerships, including its primary venue, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue
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