I’ve declared my love for a lot of things on this blog. Children’s literature. Public Libraries. Ideas. The YMCA. Coffee. (Wait, what? I haven’t written about my great affection for coffee? That’s a glaring oversight that will be corrected.) Today, I’m here to share another Idea Chaser with you, and she shares one of my greatest loves of all — theater. I’m publicly promising that not all of the ideas that I feature in Idea Chasers will be from the creative realm, but I do have to admit to an inherent bias towards the arts as a source of inspiration. Today’s idea comes from a talented young performer/writer/director. Mollie Amburgey is producing her first play, OLD WOUNDS, this February with GoodPeople Theatre, a company she founded with our mutual friend Will Bonfiglio as a platform to tell this story and see where it goes from there.
I’m excited to share a little of Mollie’s idea with you because 1) It is an idea still in the making. I can’t tell you the final outcome of her idea, or what future opportunities it might bring. We just get to take a peek at the process, which I find intriguing. 2) Mollie is a young woman fresh out of college and is deciding to create her own path in her chosen field. She’s got a lot of living ahead of her and any number of possible futures, but she has already decided to make her own opportunities. That’s a bold start.
Mollie wrote OLD WOUNDS two years ago, while visiting her hometown of Cincinnati and driving around her old stomping grounds. “It’s amazing what you think about when you are driving,” she shares, “I started thinking how you can totally have everything the romantic comedies talk about: history, chemistry, desire to be together. It seems like the right formula, right? However, even with that, life occurrences can interfere, change people, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.” She drove home, sat down on her childhood couch, and wrote the entire first draft to what would become OLD WOUNDS.
After returning to St. Louis, she set it aside to finish up her directing obligations as a senior at SLU and then became involved with another theater project, Shake83. She began working in St. Louis and cultivating the relationships and friendships she would come to rely on as a new writer and producer. Looking back, she is glad she waited because it gave her the opportunity to meet the kind of friends who she’d come to describe as her “best friends and sisters over at SLIGHTLY ASKEW THEATRE (Ellie Schweyte, Rachel Tibbetts, and Bess Moynihan). These are the women that inspire her and encouraged her to be a risk taker. She also credits her professors at SLU as mentors, stating that, “It was always when they played “devil’s advocate” per say with me that I learned the most. I don’t learn a lot from praise. It’s nice, but not very constructive.”
Once she had her schedule cleared she approached Will to assistant direct. Will was thrilled to join the project and says, “Seeing Mollie in her element and how passionate she is toward her craft has been truly inspiring. It’s one thing to get to work alongside one of your best friends, but it’s an even greater experience when it is a young and tenacious producer/playwright/director/everything else she does.” Together they assembled a team that makes makes Mollie feel like “the luckiest girl in the world.”
One unique aspect to the show is its venue. OLD WOUNDS will be performed at The Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop in a room that looks like an upscale loft. Mollie says she wanted the audience to feel they were in the loft with the characters, actually experiencing the scenes along with them. The show is relatively short, only an hour in length, and the room only seats twenty people. This was an intentional decision to create not only intimacy, but also a lower overhead than renting a larger venue.
All ideas have the potential to succeed or fail or something in between and sometimes the fear of failing can stop us in our tracks. I asked Mollie how she defines success for GoodPeople Theatre or OLD WOUNDS and how she handles the possibility of failure and here is what she had to say: “Here’s what you have to realize whenever you are producing a show: NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE EVERYTHING YOU DO. YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. And this lesson applies to real life as well. Some of the most famous playwrights have plays everyone hates, yet they are renowned and still have good reputations. I like to think of it like this: my hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals, as much as I love them, literally loses every game. But my city couldn’t care less, because we love them. They are our team, and everyone else can just take a hike. That’s how I feel about OLD WOUNDS. You have an opinion, awesome, I’ll grow from it. So honestly, you just can’t care. Go big or go home.”
If you’d like to learn more about OLD WOUNDS, you can check out their Facebook events page or take a behind-the-scenes peek at the rehearsal process on their blog. To support the production, purchase tickets here or visit their Go Fund Me site.
I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product in later this month. Thank you for your willingness to share your idea with us Mollie!