Things will just keep building from here.
Wrights of Wyoming, the unconventional theatrical production hosted by local theater group True Troupe for the past four years, has undergone trial by fire since its creation. In 2020, they were forced to take live performances to Zoom, and in 2021, they were scrambling to find a physical location in which to perform.
This year’s three nights of performances will continue to feature creatives giving their work a test run. Actors take the stage free of costume and with their scripts in hand, so there’s a slight dip in essence to the traditional expectations around a production.
Don’t write Wrights off for an assumed lack of flair, though – the subtly is the event’s strength. Wrights gives the participating authors and actors a chance to present some of their more delightfully deranged stories that wouldn’t normally make the cut for a full show.
Setbacks be damned, the organizers of True Troupe have watched as their unique approach has continued to build a presence. It’s just as exciting as it was in its first year for director Traci Erickson, who begged to assume directorial duties after attending the first show in 2019.
“(I loved) what the project represented, and what it could do for young people getting started, just kind of getting that buzz for acting in the first place,” Erickson said. “What it could do for local playwrights, and what it could do to kind of get that next step going for a lot of people who don’t have that voice in small town Wyoming.”
This year, True Troupe was able to secure its new performance space at Orchard Valley Community Center, and used the opportunity to expand the format with an additional Poetry Night to kick off the series on Friday.
Previously excluded from the submission guidelines, organizers this year concluded that spoken word poetry is every bit as performance-based as a short play, musical or monologue. It didn’t hurt that local poets and writers had been pitching the format for the past year, and once they announced the change, submissions came flooding in.
“We just kind of said, ‘Why not?’” Erickson said. “Let’s see what this avenue adds to it – kind of the ‘spoken poetry’ thing – and we got some really amazing submissions, so it’ll be a great addition to it.”
To fit the atmosphere, Erickson is pushing to create a “beatnik” setting for the night, akin to a night in a romanticized 1960s Greenwich Village.
The majority of participants in this year’s show are new to the Troupe, particularly in the poetry section.
Anna Findley, a Cheyenne resident, has never submitted a piece of poetry before. After seeing a call for submissions from True Troupe, she figured, “Oh, what the heck?”
Now, a poem she wrote three years ago exploring the ending of a relationship will be performed on stage. Though she isn’t reading the work herself, the personal nature of the poem is enough to rattle her nerves.
Richard Morrell is the only playwright to return to the event. His brand of offbeat screenwriting continues this year with two feature plays being performed on both Saturday and Sunday.
Inspired by the work “The Dreamer Examines His Pillow,” by one of his favorite playwrights, John Patrick Shanley, Morrell altered the plot of the play to feature the struggle of a relationship in turmoil between two gay men, rather than a heterosexual relationship between a man and a woman.
His other work is a screenplay, where two sisters kidnap their niece, the daughter of a fundamentalist Christian preacher, because she’s come out as gay. The sisters attempt to perform conversion therapy on the girl, but discover she’s an avatar of Gaia, a primordial deity in Greek mythology.
That’s just the beginning of the weirdness.
It gets even stranger with the first stage play written by the Troupe’s founder, Adrianna True. She first began writing the play in college, but recently returned to the work, or series of works, after a rekindling of inspiration pushed her to follow through.
If nothing else, Wrights is a relaxed place for aspiring writers to give their work a worthy test run, an opportunity rarely made available in Cheyenne. The show will be held in Cheyenne from Sept. 24-26. A monetary donation is required for entry.