Theatre — The Warmth Of The Cold
The Warmth Of The Cold
by Michelle Saturley
The play’s the thing...Yellow Taxi brings local playwright’s work to life
Nashua-based playwright Lowell Williams found the name of his new play, The Warmth of the Cold, by writing a poem.
“I was struggling with what the play was about, so I wrote a poem describing it,” Williams said. “There was a line in the poem about ‘the warmth of the cold,’ and I liked it so much I used it as the title.”
Although Williams has been an actor, director and playwright for many years, this is the first time one of his full-length plays has been produced. He started out as a part-time theater junkie with a full-time software engineering job. While working as the liturgist at American Stage Festival, one of his tasks was to read all the new scripts sent to him by playwrights and drama houses around the country. It was during that time that he decided to try his own hand at scriptwriting.
“I’ll never forget the script that finally moved me to start writing,” he said. “It was terrible. It was about 350 pages, single-spaced, and it was about the Holocaust. It was obvious that the writer had never seen a play in his life. There were no stage directions, just dialogue, and it was awful. I said, ‘I could do better than this.’ Then that turned into, ‘Why don’t I do better than this?’”
Williams has left the engineering rat race and is currently working toward completing his MFA in playwriting at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Through the support of other students in the program, as well as his academic advisor and friends, Williams took the last year to complete the script.
“I’ve learned what makes a play move, what makes it interesting and exciting, and how to write that,” he said.
According to Williams, a play has to be character-driven to succeed.
“It’s different from a TV show or a movie that’s driven by plot,” he said. “The characters have to be real, and they have to be relatable. Otherwise the audience won’t care.”
Williams drew upon real-life experience for the characters in The Warmth of the Cold.
“I grew up in Carthage, New York, which was a small mill town,” he said. “When I heard about the mill closing in Berlin, it reminded me of my home town, because the very same thing had happened there.”
Williams visited Berlin and discovered more similarities to his home town.
“The characters in this play are sort of an amalgam of the people I knew when I was growing up and the people I met in Berlin,” Williams said. “I like to write about women, because I think they’re more interesting. The women in these small towns, for the most part, have very simple goals. They want to get out of school, get married and have kids. I’m not putting that down or anything; it’s just what they do. And, a lot of times, they achieve that goal by the time they’re 19 years old. So, what’s left for them to do? They find their lives eroding away from them. And then, when the mill closes, they find their town and way of life eroding as well. They don’t know what to do. They’re just lost.”
While waiting for the play to be performed by Yellow Taxi Productions in April, Williams is keeping himself busy by co-hosting and writing the script for this year’s New Hampshire Theatre Awards ceremony, happening Feb. 4 at The Palace Theatre. Williams is hoping that a script will help keep the show at a trim two hours, as opposed to last year’s marathon four-hour presentation. He’ll share hosting duties with former Peacock Players artistic director Scott Severance.
“We’re trying to put more of a fun, party atmosphere in this year’s awards,” Williams said. “Scott is the right person to do that. He loves slapstick and sight gags, and he’ll do anything for a laugh. It should be a good time.”
Williams is also contemplating a move to the Big Apple.
“Everyone is always asking me when I’m going to New York to become a big playwright,” he said. “I’m not in any particular hurry at the moment. You don’t have to be in New York to write. Sure, the connections would help in terms of getting things produced, but I don’t think I’m there yet.”
For more information about the upcoming production of The Warmth of the Cold, April 21-24 at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, visit www.yellowtaxiproductions.org. To purchase tickets to this year’s New Hampshire Theatre Awards, call The Palace Theatre box office at 668-5588.
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