RSU Theatre to Present New Play, ‘The Sinker’

The theatre program at Rogers State University, which has gained a reputation for presenting original plays, will present the first college production of “The Sinker,” a new play by Jami Brandli.

RSU Theatre will present “The Sinker,” at 7:07 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 28-30, and Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 4-6, in the Will Rogers Auditorium. A matinee performance will be held at 2:07 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Brandli, a nationally known, award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced across the nation, teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University in Boston. She will visit the RSU campus during production of her play, meeting with students in theatre classes and during rehearsals.

“The Sinker” begins the day after a big party celebrating main character Josh’s latest achievement: a deal to publish his first novel. Three people are trapped in a house by blizzard conditions: George, Josh’s childhood friend; Liz, his literary agent; and Candi, his ambitious writing student. When a mysterious gun turns up, the tension grows and a trigger is pulled.

The cast of three includes RSU students Josh Gammon of Broken Arrow, who portrays George, Heathyr Chenoweth of Tulsa, who plays Liz, and Christen Burdell of Owasso, portraying Candi.

The play received the Jury Prize for Hot City Theatre’s Green House New Play Series in 2009, and had its world premiere in St. Louis in May.

Brandli has had short plays produced across the nation, including Washington, D.C., where she was accepted as a Visiting Artist at the Kennedy Center as part of its Playwriting Intensive Program.

Brandli’s love for playwriting began when she was a child. “My brother and cousins and I would write little plays and put them on,” she said. “I always fancied myself as a writer since I was a teenager.”

After trying her hand as a fiction writer, she returned to plays. “I’ve always been interested in drama — playwriting and then screenwriting were my first loves,” she said. “I’m just a much better dramatist than fiction writer. I was resisting that for a long time. When I returned to playwriting, everything fell into place.”

In 2007, Brandli received a literature fellowship in playwriting from the SAC/Massachusetts Cultural Council and was a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference for her play, “The Lost Boy of Sudan.” In 2008, she was a finalist for Disney ABC’s 2008 TV Writing Fellowship.

Her plays have been published in Smith & Kraus’ “The Best Ten-Minute Plays Anthologies” (2007 and 2008), and her short stories have been published in “Other Voices, Quick Fiction, Salt Hill and Memorious” (nominated for the 2007 Pushcart Prize).

Brandli’s latest full-length play, “Technicolor Life,” was recently developed at the 2010 WordBRIDGE Playwrights Lab and was selected as part of the 2010 Ashland New Plays Festival. The play was the winner of the 2010 John Gassner Playwriting Award and was a finalist for the 2010 Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship and the 2010 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. It was also semifinalist for the 2010 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.

Brandli lives in Pasadena, Calif., where she’s at work on scripts for both stage and screen and a novel. For her day job, she teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University’s low-residency MFA program in Boston.

Over the last five years, RSU Theatre has performed more than 25 new plays, including “The Sinker.”

“I am so thankful and grateful that it’s getting its first college production at RSU,” Brandli said. “It’s a great thing to know RSU is a place for new plays — that’s not a common thing.”

For more information on the upcoming RSU Theatre production of “The Sinker,” call 343-7521.