North Shelby Library features Alabama Shakespeare playwright

Mobile born playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder exudes class, and a twist of homespun humor.

At North Shelby Library on March 2, she discussed her writing career and upcoming play, The Furniture of Home, running March 6–29 at Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) Theatre in Montgomery, where she is Writer in Residence.

In 2008, Wilder won the Osborn Award, a theater critic’s honor, for Gee’s Bend, a play said to be a “love fest between the characters and land they live on.”

Her diverse works are played widely including venues such as the Royal Court Theater in London.

“A pivotal moment in my life was playing the part of Peter Pan as a child. I fell in love with theater, wrote my first play at age 11, and at 17 I became a serious writer when my play became a New York production,” Wilder said. “I lived in New York, got a Masters in dramatic writing at New York University. I became a staff writer for CBS, went to Hollywood and wrote screenplays. Currently, I only write commissioned works.”

How many parents would approve playwright as a child’s career track? Maybe you need to nurture those artistic leanings? Wilder is clearly enjoying life.

One thing struck me: her extensive research before writing a play.

For example, her current play at ASF, The Furniture of Home, depicts the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The play shows how events redefine family and home during a crisis.

In her research for this play, Wilder went to the scene of devastation in Bayou La Batre, interviewed residents, especially a group of school children who took video cameras and documented living conditions after the storm.

Wilder believes humor helps smooth life’s rough edges.

“You might think a Katrina story is depressing, but there’s a lot of humor in my play,” she said. “Someone I’ve long admired is playing a key character: Greta Lambert, as Dottie.”

In the play, Dottie loses her home in Katrina, but gains a granddaughter, Kendall. Together they learn to let go of the past and hold onto one another in a hilarious and heartwarming story about what makes a home. The intimate masterpiece is laced with wonderful humor and touching moments as only Wilder can express them. Tickets are available on www.ASF.net or call 1 800.841.4273