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John Lamb, Published February 06 2013

Theatre B debuts Incubator Series with play by Seattle playwright with local ties

FARGO – The road back home can be quite a roundabout one.

For its new program to develop new talent, the Incubator Series, Theatre B received about 10 un-published scripts from a friend in New York.

Out of those 10, one stood out: “Sweet Nothing: A (Grim) Fairytale,” by Stephanie Timm, which opens tonight.

“We just picked the script blind because we liked it,” says Carrie Wintersteen, Theatre B’s executive director.

What Wintersteen and the rest of the Fargo troupe didn’t know is that Timm is a hometown talent.

“It’s great,” the Seattle-based playwright says about having her work done in her old stomping ground. “When you’re in high school and trying to figure out who you are and what you want to be, it’s sort of a hope that something I do will get me some attention in a positive way.”

While her father bought a block of tickets for tonight’s opening, the guest of honor can’t make it as the 30-something has two young children to take care of and her job at Cornish College of the Arts.

Timm’s work is indeed getting her noticed in the right ways. “Sweet Nothing” was her second play nominated for a Gregory Award, honoring Washington state theater. The play was also selected for development at the Kennedy Center.

The play follows sisters trying to get by after war has ripped apart their home and country when one day a wolf comes to their door.

“It’s a dark story. It’s a dark world. There are comedic aspects to it,” she says, acknowledging the punny subtitle: “A (Grim) Fairytale,” a reference both to the troubling subject matter but also the folktale collecting Brothers Grimm who penned “Snow White,” “Hansel and Gretel” and other childhood favorites.

“I’ve always loved fairytales and what I think is interesting is when you read original Grimm fairytales, they are grim,” she says. “They don’t end with kissing a frog and him becoming a prince. They’re really dark all of the way to the end.”

Timm thought an imaginary land would be the perfect place to examine scenes all too real to certain parts of the world.

“I thought it was an appropriate setting to explore the aftermath of war and what it might be like to come of age to come of age in a war-torn-land,” she says. “A place without infrastructure, without grocery stores. All the things I take for granted now and took for granted when I was young. What do you do when you don’t have anything to eat?”

With her work getting noticed, but still not yet published, Timm isn’t facing that bleak of a landscape. Still, she says pro-grams like Theatre B’s Incubator Series are important to developing works for the stage

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity and I think it’s really important if theater in general is going to stay alive for theaters to invest in new writers, emerging voices, new talent including new directors and young directors. I think it’s vital or it’s going to go extinct,” she says.

If Theatre B’s Incubator Series is deemed successful, it will commission regional writers to write and workshop with the troupe.

If that happens, Timm would be open to coming back and fulfilling her own fairytale ending.

“I would definitely be interested in working with them in a more hands-on way when my kids are older,” she says.

If you go

What: "Sweet Nothing: A (Grim) Fairytale"

When: 7:30 tonight through Saturday and the following weekends in February, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 17

Where: Theatre B, 716 Main Ave., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $20 adults, $10 students. (701) 729-8880.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533