Theatre News: “The Velvet Rut” published

Here is another piece of Indy theatre news that I’ve been keeping in my mailbox for a while – this one since September (eep!) – but a) I think it is still interesting and b) you may not have heard about it yet and c) there are only a few days left in 2010, so here goes.

I received this “Announcement of Publication” from playwright James Still.  You probably already know that he is the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  He mentioned this play, “The Velvet Rut,” when I first met him, back in 2008.  Someone pitched it at the annual meeting of the National New Play Network when it was here in Indianapolis a little later that year, and I heard about the world premiere of “The Velvet Rut” when I learned that James had received the Medallion award from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.

So I was delighted to learn this fall that “The Velvet Rut” has been published.  Now anyone (directors, producers, theatre bloggers) can buy a copy and read it for themselves. 

Here is the full announcement that James sent me:



THE VELVET RUT by James Still

“When our world falls apart and our defenses collapse and we have just enough will to resist committing suicide, then a new perception of reality may usher its way into our life in a way we never would have imagined. That perception is what playwright James Still has captured uncannily in his luminescent play, ‘The Velvet Rut.'”

— JOHN TOWNSEND, Special to the Star Tribune/ DAILY VARIETY

Now published by Dramatic Publishing Company

About the play

Mr. Smith is a high school English teacher who used to know this for sure: he loves his students, his wife, and his poetry. When a single event unravels his world and sends him free-falling into a crisis of faith, a Boy Scout named Virgil mysteriously arrives to take him on a soul-searching trek through a haunted wilderness that begins in an empty church (“Maybe God IS here, I don’t know. But if he is — I think he’s just hanging around to make introductions, to introduce us to ourselves… which makes God more of a good host, a matchmaker — an extrovert.”), continues to a camp out in the woods (“Camping… sounds like Hell.”); and ends on a front porch with a red door (“It’s a modest porch, cozy — more Thornton Wilder than Eugene O’Neill.  The front door is red. The house number is 36.”).

“‘The Velvet Rut’ sometimes feels like a ‘Twilight Zone’ echo of Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’ (in which the Roman poet Virgil acts as a guide to Hell and Purgatory). But in James Still’s play, it’s a Boy Scout named Virgil rather than a dead poet who helps Mr. Smith recover his will to live in the aftermath of nightmarish violence on Earth.  ‘The Velvet Rut’ works to derail ordinary trains of thought, prodding us out of comfort by raising questions that are more exciting than the easy answers many plays provide.”

— Renee Valois, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Representation:  Chris Till, CAA/New York

Attachment:  Cover art of published edition of THE VELVET RUT.  Cover image by Alex H. Mitchell, cover layout by Isaac H. Mitchell.


I put a copy of the fun cover art at the top of this post, as you can see.  It makes me want to see the play produced here in Indianapolis even more.

Belated congratulations, James, on the publication of “The Velvet Rut!”

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh –

Oh!  P.S. – When I saw James just before a performance of the show he directed most recently for the IRT – “Mary’s Wedding” – I asked if there was any news about his work-in-progress about Mary Todd Lincoln.  He said that Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC has officially commissioned him to write it!   I was delighted to hear that, too.

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