Slow Food tells the story of an anniversary dinner that goes terribly wrong. But its playwright, Wendy MacLeod ’81, is doing something very right.
The comedy is the fourth play by MacLeod, the James Michael Playwright-in-Residence and professor of drama, chosen for development at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. This year more than 1,300 scripts were submitted for the conference. MacLeod’s was one of seven selected.
“It’s very funny. It’s very smartly written,” said Anne Morgan, literary manager for the O’Neill, who oversees the submissions for the conference. “Wendy’s name carries weight in the theater world, but these plays are read without attribution. Readers were responding to her work.”
Slow Food follows a vacationing couple at a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs, California, as a needy waiter insinuates into their meal — and their lives — causing the couple to examine their life and future together. “There is something truthful in it about marriage and long-term relationships,” MacLeod said. “And many people say, ‘I’ve had that waiter.’ ”
Each selected playwright spends a month living in residence at the center, working to refine the play and prepare for a professional reading of his or her work.
MacLeod headed to the center last month and says she spends her days working on Slow Food and her evenings seeing the plays of the other playwrights. “It’s like camp for playwrights,” she said.
The professional reading of her play is scheduled for July 24 and 25. Reed Birney (House of Cards) will play the husband. Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) has been cast as the wife, and Michael Berresse (The Bourne Legacy) will play the waiter.
MacLeod is delighted to have such a high-caliber cast reading her work for an audience, but she said it keeps her sharp, too. “The actors are so good, they can make anything sound good,” she said. “I don’t want to be complacent.”