Local playwright debuts comedy, ‘Wordsmith’
DARIEN — Greenwich resident Rocco Natale was entering a play festival which required him to submit outlines for three shows. Natale had two outlines ready, but needed a third. So, he quickly made up one. The one-man show centered around an English professor and crossword puzzle enthusiast who has an orphaned bulldog come into his life who he thinks is sending him messages through his crosswords.
“I jokingly made up this third play,” Natale said. “Then I was like, ‘That’s a really interesting proposition.’”
The outline drawn up on a whim turned into a full-blown show called “Wordsmith.” Three years after the show’s inception, it is making a one-night-only debut at the Darien Arts Center Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first time the show is performed in front of an audience. Tickets are not necessary to attend the performance, but a donation of $10 is suggested.
The reading is directed by Claire Kelly, of New Canaan, and Natale will be performing in the show’s only role, but the audience will have a chance to get involved in the show as well.
“There’s an element of audience participation,” he said. “It’s very safe, but we do ask them to give answers and at one point, our main character is lecturing about his relationship with crossword puzzles and turns to the audience and asks them their experience.”
“One of the most important things people can understand is this is the very first time the play is being heard out loud,” he said. “The producer and director have all heard the play out loud, but we’ve never heard the play in front of a full audience. The audience will tell us where we are in the journey of the play, whether they laugh, emote or offer comments. In the end, the reaction of the audience helps us gauge where the play is at.”
Plays and musicals go through intense, yearslong editing processes, and much of the edits are based on audience feedback. Natale, the executive director for the Open Arts Alliance, has had plays and musicals produced from Washington, D.C., to Africa, so he’s familiar with the process. However, he’s excited to mark his return to his roots with the debut of “Wordsmith.” Natale studied playwriting specifically for solo performances at New York University, but “Wordsmith” marks his first one-man show in 10 years. It’s also a return to writing comedies.
“I’ve always kind of been a playwright,” he said. “Telling stories was always something that was really interesting to me, and making people laugh was something I just had a fondness for — making the people around me laugh and making them feel things, and in our digital age, there’s something special about everyone being in the same space and sharing the same experience.”
If you go
“Wordsmith” will be performed Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the
Darien Arts Center Weatherstone Studio, 2 Renshaw Road. Tickets are not needed. A donation of $10 is suggested.