Lydia Nightingale has plenty of experience working as a singer, actor or model.
But a playwright? Don’t sell the 2007 Shenendehowa and 2011 SUNY-New Paltz graduate short. Nightingale is one of six Capital Region writers working together to produce an “Exquisite Corpse,” a writing exercise created by French surrealist Andre Breton in 1925.
Nightingale’s work and the scripts of five of her colleagues will be heard at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Albany Masonic Temple. The reading is part of Confetti Stage’s annual gala fundraiser. The title of the play is “The Lurid Coffee Stubbornly Betrays the Sedentary Scissors.”
“It started out as a thing of its own, but then we thought we’d love to present this to the public, and one of our colleagues said the gala might be a good idea,” said Nightingale.
“Confetti Stage does all kinds of things, and they do them wonderfully. They’ve been very supportive of local playwrights and new material, so to do this at their event is a great idea.”
This is how it works. A playwright writes 10 pages of a script, and then hands the final page to another playwright, who adds another 10 pages, and then gives her or his final sheet to another playwright, and so on. Nightingale is No. 4 in line. There are only four main characters, two men and two women, in the play.
“We get the last page of the person before us, and we do get a character breakdown,” said Nightingale. “Stephen Henel went before me and he was nice. He figured out a way to give me a lot of information on that last page. So there’s a trend set, and most of us followed it, along with giving the person after us a hint of what was going on.”
Along with Nightingale and Henel, the other playwrights in the process are Marty Egan, Sunny da Silva, Matthew Side and Nate Beynon. Four actors will perform the reading with just one rehearsal, and will take stage direction from the authors.
“I was involved in something like this back at New Paltz,” said Nightingale. “It was a 24-hour feeder project, and we ended up with a very strong adaptation of a Shakespeare play that had a lot to do with Canada. Some of us went to bed, and when we got up the next morning it had been turned into a 45-minute musical that we performed that night as a staged reading.”
Nightingale herself has written three plays, including a short piece set during World War II that was produced by Confetti Stage two years ago.
“I always loved writing, and when I was 12 I wrote a novel that really didn’t work out,” she said, laughing. “But I enjoyed doing it, and when I took a playwriting course in college I knew it was something I really liked.”
Nightingale introduced herself to Capital Region theater fans in May of 2007 when, instead of going to her senior prom at Shenendehowa, she performed in a New York State Theatre Institute production of Ron Holgate’s “Reunion.”
It was her singing voice that stood out in that production, but since then she has also performed serious dramatic roles in “Crimes of the Heart” and “These Shining Lives,” both at Curtain Call Theatre.
Currently employed by Albany Medical Center, Nightingale plans to head to New York City in a couple of months to see what kind of work she can get down there.
“It’s been two years since I graduated, so my objective is to get out in the world and see what I can do on my own,” said Nightingale, who also performed with the Not-So-Common Players in Clifton Park when she was younger.
“I’m not even sure what I want to focus on right now — writing, singing or acting — and I’m also interested in modeling, which people have told me I could do. So I may try my hand at all of them and see which one I feel most at home with.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.