We’ve all experienced it. Sometimes you know it’s coming, like when you’re standing next to the crudité platter in your alma mater’s gym. Or it might occur quite unexpectedly, like while you’re pushing a grocery cart through the frozen food aisle. And, more and more, it’s something we seek out, clicking through a list of results spat out from Facebook’s search function. It’s the moment you come face-to-face with a friend from your past.
That moment, in all its self-actualizing awkwardness, was the genesis of Least Likely Friends, a new play by Charlotte actress, producer, and playwright Tonya Bludsworth (Carrie Ann’s Kiss, Aphasia). The 90-minute, one-act show explores the lives, secrets, and sins of four former college roommates who find themselves reunited by the sudden death of the one friend they all preferred over each other. Luckily for Bludsworth, her real life friends and creative colleagues made the process of bringing her new show to the stage far more enjoyable than the social pressure-cooker she puts her characters through on it.
One such friend was Donna Scott (Donna Scott Productions), who has partnered creatively with Bludsworth on previous film and theater projects and was anxious for her friend to sit down and start writing a rich, relatable, female-driven story. “Donna is a great sounding board, and a pusher. In the most supportive way possible,” says Bludsworth. “I sent her the first draft of Least Likely Friends that I wrote in about two months, and then I’d periodically send sections to her as I found time to rework it. But I just wasn’t moving fast enough for her, so she took matters into her own hands.”
In 2011, Scott applied for and received a Wildacres fellowship from the Blumenthal Foundation which allowed her to take Bludsworth on a secluded retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a week of uninterrupted creative work.
By the end of the trip, Bludsworth had a script she was ready to share with even more of her friends who litmus tested the realism of her dialogue with live readings. To cast her show, Bludsworth assembled a dream team of some of her favorite local talent: Paige Johnston-Thomas, Chandler McIntyre, Darlene Parker, and her “creative pusher” (and show co-producer), Donna Scott. And while female dynamics make up the core of Bludsworth’s twisty tale, there is one male who played a crucial role: her husband, Chuck Bludsworth, whose company Civilized Films is helping to produce the show.
WANT TO GO? Least Likely Friends Theatre Charlotte June 12-22 Tickets, $25-$27, available at www.carolinaTix.org.