Arts and Culture

Louisville playwright Brian Walker is having a busy week. The revival of his 2006 comedy “Great American Sex Play” opens Thursday at the Kentucky Center’s MeX Theatre, and tonight, his new play “The Friend Factory” will receive a staged reading at Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville. 

Walker is participating in Tennessee Rep’s Ingram New Works Lab, which provides four playwrights from the region with a season-long script lab to develop a new play. The other three playwrights in residence are Nate Eppler, Garret Schneider and Jennifer Blackmer.

“This group of theater artists down here are really great,” says Walker. “There are four professional theater companies down here, and the talent pool is pretty big and really supportive. I’ve really grown working with these three playwrights. Sitting in a room and dissecting each others’ work has been an amazing experience for me.”

Included in the process are  workshops with directors, designers and dramaturgs, as well as access to professional actors for readings and a symposium with the Ingram New Works Fellow. This year’s fellow is acclaimed playwright (and “Smash” creator) Theresa Rebeck, whose new play “Fever” will debut at the Ingram New Works Festival.

The festival also produces professional staged readings of the residents’ new plays. Walker’s “The Friend Factory” is a high-concept satire of online friendship and dating. Jonas and Amy are best friends; Jonas is looking for a boyfriend, but Amy can’t keep her hands to herself when they’ve been drinking. When Jonas decides to move on and use a service called The Friend Factory, which matches clients in their dreams while they sleep, the results are a little too good to be true. 

The reading takes place at Tennessee Rep in Nashville, but HowlRound, which cultivates and shares knowledge and innovation in regional theatre, will live-stream the reading. The performance runs 8-10 p.m. EDT, and the video will be archived on the site.

Walker is the founder and artistic director of Finnigan Productions, which produces the annual ten-minute play program Finnigan’s Festival of Funky, Fresh Fun. His produced plays include “Dirty Sexy Derby Play” and “fb: a ghost story.”