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Ohio State professor’s play ‘North’ making its way off Broadway in New York

Courtesy of the for/word company

Jennifer Schlueter has written four plays, but “North” is the first to make it to the Big Apple.

“It is my first off-Broadway play so I’m very excited, I’m very nervous and all of those things,” the assistant professor in Ohio State’s Department of Theater said in an interview on OSU’s Center for Study and Teaching of Writing’s “Writers Talk.”

Schlueter, who also was formerly an assistant professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, has been granted space in OSU’s Mount Hall Studio Theatre for one last production of “North” before heading to New York for a three-week stint off Broadway.

“‘North’ is about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, who most people know for his flight across the Atlantic,” Schlueter said. “She also was a pilot in her own right, and she was a writer. So when my collaborator Christina Ritter and I were looking for a piece to work on we were interested in Anne Lindbergh in part because her writings were so poetic.”

Ritter and Schlueter work within the for/word company, the theater company behind “North.” Ritter directs and acts while Schlueter directs and writes for the company.

“We are a loose affiliation of artists,” Schlueter said. “We are project based, so I’m in Columbus right now, Christina Ritter, my joint artistic director, is living in Lexington, Ky., one of our central actors Chris Roche is in Philadelphia, another one of our actors is in Montana right now.”

Ritter plays Anne Lindbergh in for/word’s production of “North” and, with Schlueter, shares responsibility of the company’s mission and its movement, Schlueter said.

“We all sort of coalesced around doing ‘North’ in Chicago, we all sort of coalesced around doing ‘Little Book’ in Seattle in the summer of 2011, and now we’re all coming together for this piece and we are motivated by the idea that we can do work that’s project based and not have to run a full season,” Schlueter said.

Schlueter’s plays “Little Book” and “North” have been well received by critics in Seattle and Chicago, aiding in building momentum and raising money for the production of “North.”

For/word’s website lists four company members and five affiliated artists.

Christopher Roche, who plays the lead opposite Ritter, is going with the company to New York for his first taste of the city’s lively theater scene.

“I’ve done television in New York and plays around the country, but this will be my first play in New York,” he said.

His character, Antoine de Saint-Exuperay, is interesting because he was a writer, a real revolutionary during World War II and nobody knows how he died in 1944 because his body has never been found, Roche said.

“And he (Saint Exuperay) loved her (Lindbergh’s) writing, and she loved his, and they only met once, but the play is about what could have happened that one time they met,” Roche said.

“North” is scheduled to take the stage Saturday for free at 7 p.m. in Mount Hall, located at 1050 Carmack Rd., before it hits New York’s 59E59 Theatres, Theatre B, to run from Oct. 4 through Oct. 28.

To listen to the full interview with Schlueter, tune into “Writers Talk’ 7 p.m. Monday on WCRS 98.3 or 102.1 FM.

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