Bryna Turner / Photo: Courtesy
We all know a Carlo.
At every get together, she’s the loudest and the brashest, and probably the drunkest, too.
Even when she’s at a wedding, often-raucous events known for their loud and drunk attendees.
Playwright Bryna Turner was first introduced to the character when as she was finalizing her previous work, “Bull in the China Shop,” which the New York Times called “a pugnacious, tender and gloriously funny new play” when it debuted in at the Lincoln Center in 2017.
Turner was at a silent writer’s retreat making edits to the script when Carlo’s voice popped into her head. In contrast to the quiet environment, Carlo wouldn’t stop talking. Turner, meanwhile, was due to attend a wedding following the conclusion of the writer’s retreat, and a plan started to form.
“Instead of letting her ruin my current play, I gave Carlo her own play,” Turner said on a recent Zoom call from her home in Brooklyn, New York.
“At the Wedding”
Where: Live at TheatreSquared and also streaming
When: Now through June 13; In-person performances feature socially distanced audiences inside of T2’s main performance area and streaming tickets purchased allow the ticketholder to view the high definition livestream of this performance at home.
Cost: $35-$55 for in-person tickets or $71 for a two-person table; $25-$35 for a streaming pass
Tickets: 479-777-7477 or theatre2.org
Note: Because the streaming option is only available for the local market, online streaming tickets are not being sold online. Please contact the box office for a ticket to view the online production.
That concept became the comedy “At the Wedding,” which is currently being produced at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. The production is T2’s first in-person show in more than a year, and it’s also available for viewing at home via a streaming version. It’s actually the show’s second pass through town, as it was workshopped at the 2019 Arkansas New Play Festival. The current production marks the first time that “At the Wedding” has been fully staged.
Turner remembers calling TheatreSquared just before catching her plane to Fayetteville two years ago. She’d only just recently added two new characters – Eli and Maria – and needed to have those roles quickly cast to make her vision come true. T2 found someone for the roles, and the characters quickly became integral parts of the show.
“I can’t imagine the show without them now,” Turner said.
But it is Carlo who serves as the antagonist – and protagonist – of the show.
Turner says Carlo is the loudest character she’s ever created, and is a summary of “her least generous voice” – the kinds of things you aren’t supposed to say out loud, Carlo does. Carlo has promised herself not to drink too much at the wedding, and she’s promised that she won’t try to steal the bride back. Spoiler alert: She drinks too much, and she tries to steal the bride back.
Her comedic excesses are more of a cover for insecurities, however, and that provides the play its redemptive arc. Carlo meets other wedding guests who commiserate and help her during the wedding.
“She really has a great time, despite herself,” Turner says. “It’s a story about hope and connecting through loneliness.”
After the run in Fayetteville, the show will take the stage at the Lincoln Center in New York. Turner, meanwhile, is at work on several new plays and will begin teaching playwriting courses at Rutgers University in the fall semester.