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The Hilltop


Howard playwright holds script reading for developing play

A Howard student playwright explains the process and intent behind his upcoming production.

The cast and crew of “A Lover’s Quarrel” at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Noel Best)

Tyler Lang, a student playwright, took one step closer to producing “A Lover’s Quarrel” by holding a script reading. 

The reading occurred in Douglass Hall on April 12 and the Wooly Mammoth Theatre on April 13. The play, written by the first-year transfer musical theater student from Dallas, captures the story of a young man trying to get back on his feet after coming home from war while also exploring an interracial relationship in the Deep South during the 1940s. 

Lang said he wanted to push himself artistically and was heavily inspired by theater figures like August Wilson and Dominique Morisseau to make a period piece that he felt could impact an audience. 

“I’m a big history buff, so I thought it would be so cool to be able to transport myself back in time and be as if I’m with these characters during that time, feeling their pain, emotion and joy,” Lang said. 

Nathaniel Mitchell, a third-year musical theater major from Washington, D.C., plays Junior, the main character’s oldest brother. He also enjoys acting in period pieces and said he likes Black stories that don’t lean too much into Black pain.

“[Pain] is still present [in the story] because it was present historically. It’s not so prevalent that it’s distracting. It’s a very interesting take on two lovers who aren’t supposed to be together,” Mitchell said.

This play is Lang’s 11th project. He plays the role of the main character, Samuel. He said it has always been his goal to have a production showcased at Howard. 

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After a play is written and has gone through the draft process, it is pitched to a selection committee with professors and other people in the theater arts scene for approval.

Lang said he contacted professors at the Catholic University of America (CUA) to collaborate with their musical theater students for the play as well. 

Grazia Saporito, a student at CUA, plays the role of Florence and said she has enjoyed being able to work with people from a different university. She said that she finds it to be a unique experience.

“It has been so interesting, and I wish I got to take classes with these people because they’re lovely and it’s just so amazing to see what they were taught by their teachers and how they bring that to the table,” Saporito said. 

The cast said they can learn from each other through their differences in campus culture and classroom lessons. 

Noel Best, a freshman musical theater major from Houston who is also the marketing manager for the play, said she believes this collaboration is also a way for them to get to know each other better and network. 

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“I thought it was a great opportunity for Howard students to meet other students upcoming in the industry, and it’s cool to meet them and see their interest and involvement in the show,” Best said.

The cast of “A Lover’s Quarrel” during the April 12 reading in Douglass Hall. (Taylor Swinton/The Hilltop)

After over a year and a half of preparation and hours of rehearsals, the cast and crew came together to make the audience feel impacted by their storytelling. Audience member Amauriah Davis, a second-year acting major from Atlanta, said they accomplished that goal, and she specifically admired the word choices and characterization. 

“I’m still sitting with it. It was really intense, but I think it’s really interesting how he had the crowd attached, no matter how things were going, there was an investment,” Davis said. 

Overall, Lang and his crew wanted to do the script reading to get feedback from the audience while it was still a work in progress. 

“It’s not finalized yet. That’s what a lot of plays do. They’re constantly workshopping to see whether the audience will receive it well or whether they might have to some critiques, to strengthen the play,” Best said. 

Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady

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