NFNM Show Update: Teen Sniper

Dallas Theater Center recently received a Writers Residency grant for a musical written by Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman, currently titled Teen Sniper. Lee Trull, Director of New Play Development at DTC, spoke with us about the Residency process.

Tell us a bit about the Untitled Teen Sniper Project and how Dallas Theater Center got involved with the piece.
Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman (plus the wonderful Kirsten Childs) wrote a musical for us a few years back titled Fly. It was an updated story of Peter Pan directed by Jeffrey Seller. We were amazed by the work of all three writers (we just produced the world premier of Bella by Kirsten which will be seen soon at Playwrights Horizons). We also have a close relationship with Meredith McDonough of Actors Theatre of Louisville. She worked on Fly By Night with us and directed Book Club Play a few years later. She’s become a dear friend of mine and a member of the DTC family. Meredith reach out to us with the idea of co-commissioning Bill and Rajiv to write a new musical. We jumped at the chance!

How does this process fit into DTC’s overall commitment to new works development?
DTC is committed to inspiring our diverse community by creating experiences that stimulate new ways of thinking and living. Teen Sniper (which is a working title — I think it’s already changed twice!) takes a funny and humane look at a not-to-distant dystopian world dominated by racial and economic tension and a callous disregard for human life. It asks fundamental questions about gun violence, empathy and America’s place in the world. The music is extraordinary, the characters are vibrant and its themes are modern. It’s exactly the kind of risky new work that DTC has a track record of developing.

How did your partnership with Actors Theatre of Louisville impact the development of Teen Sniper?
It’s so helpful to share the wonderful but often heavy burden of developing a new musical with a like-minded theater. Meredith and Les are wonderful collaborators. The process has been a dream!

DTC received a NAMT Writers Residency Grant for a reading to work on the first draft of Teen Sniper.  What did your residency accomplish for the piece, and what was the process?
Well…we finished a draft! Meredith and I moved to Brooklyn for a week (we shared an AirBnB). We rented a studio at MTC and every day we met with actors and worked through the show. At night the guys would write. We started on a Monday and did a small reading for friends on the following Sunday. With a new musical you don’t quite know what you have until you hear that first draft. The residency provided that for us and we are very grateful.

What are your next steps with Teen Sniper?
Rajiv and Bill are doing re-writes now and the plan is to reconvene in December (so soon!) to talk through the next draft. Hopefully another workshop in 2017!

For more information about Dallas Theater Center and their upcoming projects, visit their website.

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