Inspiration comes from many places but for playwright Kevin Ray Johnson, he didn't have to search too far for his play The Unpredictable Times.
It's been a decade long passion project. The Unpredictable Times surrounds 5 friends coming back home to Champlin Minnesota after graduating college hoping for the summer of their lives. During the summer they face unresolved issues from the past and present that will question if their friendship that was developed from childhood is truly worth saving now as adults.
Johnson could have set his play anywhere but he set it in his home state.
"Anyone who is from Minnesota will tell you something about growing up there. No matter where you go in life, you will always keep Minnesota in your heart", he said.
His play isn't based directly on his life but the characters are based on people he knew growing up. Johnson wanted to write something that all generations not just his can relate to when it comes to trying to hold on to childhood friendships, even when you have outgrown each other.
"When I have done readings and workshops of it in the past so many people have come up to me after and said "I know people just like these characters" and "this really hits home". I just really wanted to write something that can connect with anyone from any walks of life that comes to see it."
Johnson is about to see his play take its biggest stage yet. On August 30th at Shetler Studios Penthouse, The Unpredictable Times will be having a AEA 29 hour reading, that will feature a cast which includes, Spring Awakening Alumni Matt Shingledecker (who is currently playing Fiyero in Wicked on Broadway) as well as Nick Anastasia (Off Broadways The Love Note), Ashley Wool (Parade, The Addams Family, OnStage Critics Award Nominee) & Christy Wyatt. It will be directed by S. Lee Lewis who is the producing artistic director at The Milburn Stone Theatre in Maryland.
It's been a long road towards this moment. " This has been such a long journey filled with so many readings workshops and rewrites for almost 10 years", he said. "I wrote the original draft in 2006 and originally it was kind of a sarcastic comedy, making fun of the 'coming of age' story. Then when it got in the hands of someone I really look up to, they told me that this isn't bad and it's definitely not a comedy and I should definitely start trying to workshop it and get it on its feet."
When it comes to talking about this talent cast, Johnson doesn't hold back.
"When it came to Matt Shingledecker I have been fan of his work for years and I have been dying to see him perform/read the role of Henry. Christy Wyatt is everything I could ask for in the role of Nicole and then some when it comes to innocence. I originally met Nick Anastasia (Jake) when we were performing off broadway debut together last fall in a musical called The Love Note at The Actors Temple Theatre and we instantly hit it off and he became like a little brother to me. He is such an amazing actor and anyone who knows him just knows how contagious he is. Ashley Wool has such a maturity yet angst that I have been searching years for when it comes to the role of Samantha and I am so excited to see her perform the role. "
Johnson doesn't seem nervous about the reading, he seems ready.
"This is definitely by far the biggest reading of it to date and I truly hope to meet some wonderful people who would love to bring this piece to the next level."
For more information about the play and the reading please visit: www.facebook.com/TheUnpredictableTimesPlay or contact TheUnpredictableTimesPlay@outlook.com .