You can help a playwright tweak his script for upcoming Tugboat production

A local playwright wants your advice -- especially if you are a parent or a child. Adam Gottfried will be hosting a staged reading of his new play "Really, Truly" at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, at the Renegade Center for the Arts, after which he'l...

A local playwright wants your advice -- especially if you are a parent or a child.

Adam Gottfried will be hosting a staged reading of his new play "Really, Truly" at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, at the Renegade Center for the Arts, after which he'll ask for feedback. Your advice could help him tweak the the play before it debuts as a Halloween add-on to the Tugboat Children's Theatre season.

Brian Matuszak, the artistic director at Renegade, said the company doesn't often put on originally written plays. This one came up indirectly through one of the unusual ways in which Renegade does put on newly-written scripts.

Matuszak first connected with Gottfried the last time Renegade hosted an "Out of the Hat" event -- the two-day festival during which writers, directors and actors crank out a series of very short plays on extremely short notice based on ideas drawn from a hat. He knew Gottfried wanted to write but didn't have a writing slot available; instead, he had the University of Minnesota Duluth theater student direct a show, lining him up as a writer for the next time "Out of the Hat" rolls around.

He filed away Gottfried's desire to write and then promptly forgot it.


That desire came back when Matuszak put out an e-mail to Renegade folks seeking help on a matter unrelated to "Out of the Hat."

"I wanted to do a Halloween carnival ... but I didn't have anyone to head up anything," Matuszak said.

He got an immediate response from Gottfried, jarring Matuszak's memory about the writer/director. He asked Gottfried if he wanted to come up with an idea for an hour-long kids show and write and direct it.

Gottfried's response: "I said, 'Are you kidding? Heck, yeah!'"

Gottfried grew up in the Twin Cities and originally attended a community college there, Century College, where one play he wrote has been produced. The 23-year-old writer, who's been writing since age 14, is also expecting his first fantasy novel, "Word to the Wise," to be published in October.

Later, Gottfried transferred to UMD, where he is, for the moment, a theater major.

The play at Century College was a serious piece. "This is the first thing I've ever written for kids," Gottfried said of "Really, Truly."

It came fast. "When I got the e-mail, I was at work, and I sat there the rest of the day at work trying to figure out what would be a good idea for a kids' story," he said.


He called his mother, and she gave him the germ of the idea that became the play. It revolves around something that happened to his brother, now 12, when he was in the hospital and had hallucinations as a side effect to medication.

"So I kind of went from that, and it kind of developed from there," Gottfried said.

Struck by the muse, he went home and worked until, at 2:30 a.m., he had something and sent it off to Matuszak.

Gottfried said he kept working until that hour even though he had to work the next day. "I didn't want to stop because I was on such a good flow," he said.

The basic story is that a girl, about 11 years old, is sick in the hospital. The whole thing takes place on Halloween. She tells her two stuffed animals a story about the King of the World who couldn't keep everyone happy, and when she falls asleep, the stuffed animals come to life and take her through an entire dream world until she meets the King of the World.

"It's kind of a subtle coming of age story, if you will," he said.

Matuszak, for his part, was surprised to get the script so early. "It's a fun little script," he said. It's not very scary, he said, written as it is for children. The "monsters" are not bloodcurdling but imaginary.

Matuszak made a few suggestions, and he relied on his own experience from plays he's written in the past when suggesting the staged reading. He has done them himself with new scripts, because the play reads differently in your head.


"Anytime you read it out loud, I think, is a big help for a writer," he said.

Gottfried hasn't done anything like a staged reading outside of a class setting, and he said he's "insanely nervous."

"I do want honest feedback," he said.

Among the points on which he's looking for input are whether it will work for children and whether it will work for their parents.

The staged reading at Renegade, 404 W. Superior St., is free and open to the public. "Really, Truly" will be staged Oct. 23-24 and 30-31, along with the traditional Tugboat carnival for kids.

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