By Brian Robin
Meet NewSCRipts Playwright Charly Evon Simpson
Charly Evon Simpson’s plays explore myriad themes: race, sexism, grief, depression and suicide. They also encompass coming-of-age, nostalgia and the constant search for what’s missing. Often, her plays don’t provide ready answers to the questions she poses. But as they address such heavy topics, Simpson provides more than easy answers.
She provides guidance that not only informs and entertains, but many of her works take theatergoers on a journey that teaches them communication, trust, listening and often provide the answers to many of life’s thorny questions.
More questions get asked—and answered—in Simpson’s newest work, There Once Was a House. The play concludes the 2022-23 NewSCRipts play reading series Monday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. on the Julianne Argyros Stage. Next week’s reading is free and open to the public.
Part of The [email protected], NewSCRipts provides a forum for talented writers to showcase their new plays in front of an audience. The NewSCRipts process also gives play-reading fans the opportunity to not only see those plays in their early development, but take part in SCR’s play-development process.
Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg (Appropriate), There Once Was a Housetakes you to a house, a great big old house that rattled in the wind and swelled in the heat. A house that creaked and groaned and whistled in the wind. This was the house that Nina grew up in—and tried to forget. Years later, the house still stands, and Nina has returned, ready to begin a new life in her old home. For a time, that life seems like a happy one. But then, strange events begin to occur.
Exploring why those strange events occur plays a part in Simpson’s style. But only a part. Her M.O. is to dig deeper into the characters dealing with those strange events.
She told the Chautauquan Daily in New York that her plays center around “figuring out why is this happening, what is happening and how do I feel about those things. I’m interested as a playwright in exploring that (but) not necessarily in a linear fashion. Sometimes, there’s magic that will happen, and that makes more sense than the very real thing that is happening in front of us.”
Simpson’s works include Behind The Sheet, Jump, sandblasted, form of a girl unknown, and it’s not a trip it’s a journey, among others. Behind The Sheet was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and earned her a nomination for the Outer Critics Circle’s prestigious John Gassner Award. Jump was the first recipient of the David Goldman Fund for New Plays, through National New Play Network.
Simpson’s other awards include the Vineyard Theatre’s Paula Vogel Playwrighting Award and the Dramatists Guild’s Lanford Wilson Award.
Her works have been showcased at Vineyard Theatre, WP Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Round House Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company and the Salt Lake Acting Company, among others.
As a writer, Simpson’s TV work includes Showtime’s “American Rust” and HBO’s “Industry,” among others.
A Brooklyn resident, Simpson taught playwriting as an adjunct lecturer at Fordham, SUNY Purchase and Hunter College, one of her alma maters. Simpson earned an MFA in Playwrighting from Hunter College, studying with—among others—Appropriate playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. She received her BA from Brown University and her master’s in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford, New College.