The Plastic City by Matthew Kelly!
We are so excited to finally share the news! NYC-based playwright Matthew Kelly has signed on as our first playwright partner. His play The Plastic City was chosen from a collection of over 500 submitted applications, and all of us at TBT are thrilled to be producing the piece as a staged reading in September. The Plastic City follows Jade (a teen diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder), her imaginary friend Joy, and her mother Cordelia as all three explore the past of their economically-depressed home that was once a thriving plastic manufacturing hub. Community and familial tensions rise as Cordelia begins to seek connections between the town's historical plastic pollution and her daughter's diagnosis.
The Plastic City shines a light on the experience of families raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorder while also delving into the sacrifices communities make in the name of industrial and economic growth. To that end, its story echoes concerns found in myriad communities affected by lead pollution, global warming, and similar threats.
More about The Plastic City and playwright Matthew Kelly below!
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT.
Matthew Kelly is an NYC based playwright and historian whose academic and professional work spans multiple disciplines. Following training in playwriting at Brown University under the tutelage of Paula Vogel, Oskar Eustis and Brighde Mullins, he completed graduate level research in public health and earned a Ph.D. in the history of medicine from Columbia University, where his research focused on the history of health activism. He recently concluded a major examination of the history of AIDS activism in New York City and launched Transdemocracy: the Transgender Oral History Project, dedicated to chronicling the reminiscences of transgender candidates for public office. Throughout his academic and professional studies, he has sought opportunities to explore his passions through the lens of the theatre, and has penned several plays and musicals that creatively interpret and examine the worlds of history, health, sexuality, gender, science and religion.
Matthew’s plays have been staged or developed at various venues in NYC, including Abingdon Theatre (Homegrown Beginnings), Metropolitan Playhouse (Russian Tea), Occupy Wall Street / Occupy the Empty Space (Turquoise and Cloves), the Makor Steinhardt Center (Pastrami Apparitions), and the Theatre Lab (The Plastic City), in addition to NC’s Art Center Live (On the Natural Form), Muhlenberg Stage (Harry #5) and Brown University’s McCormack Theatre (Twain) and Production Workshop (Growing Born). His musical Perfectly Victorian, for which he served as co-librettist and co-lyricist alongside composer Bryan Adam, will receive a production in Chicago in 2018.
His play Homegrown Beginnings has been nominated as finalist for the Abingdon Theatre’s Christopher Brian Wolk Award in addition to the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s Woodward/Newman Drama Award. His play The Plastic City has been nominated as finalist for the College of Charleston’s Todd McNerney Playwriting Award and semi-finalist for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education's Award for Excellence in Playwriting. His screenplay Group Therapy has been named as quarter-finalist for Screencraft’s Comedy Screenplay Contest.
ABOUT THE PLAY.
The brook behind Jade’s home cuts through a wasteland of abandoned factories – testaments to a crushing industrial decline befalling what was once the nation’s hub of plastic goods manufacturing. In the orange hours of the dawn, Jade and her imaginary friend explore the banks of the river, collecting whispers from the area’s golden years. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Jade relies upon this world of memory and history to help her understand a present that is, in far too many ways, senseless. Following the closing of her company’s plastic plant, Jade’s mother Cordelia becomes drawn into her daughter’s world, eager to understand the root of her diagnosis. An insatiable hunger for answers ultimately leads her to an unsettling theory – that Jade’s condition resulted from exposure to plastic chemicals leached into the community’s air and rivers from the area’s once mighty factories. Cordelia’s sleuthing provokes harsh responses from a town eager to revitalize its manufacturing sector, and from a husband eager to forget the past. Loosely inspired by events which befell Leominster, MA in the 1990s, The Plastic City reveals the sacrifices we ask future generations to make in our unceasing quest for greatness and glory.
The Plastic City has been nominated as finalist for the College of Charleston’s Todd McNerney Playwriting Award and semi-finalist for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education's Award for Excellence in Playwriting.