Alumna, playwright Molly Metzler discusses her work, Geneseo

On March 5 Geneseo alumna Molly Smith Metzler ’00 was awarded Geneseo’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award at Geva Theatre in Rochester, N.Y.

In 2003 Metzler produced her first play “Training Wisteria,” which won three national awards: the Kennedy Center National Student Playwriting Award, the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting and the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award.

Since then, theater companies including the O’Neill Theatre Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, Chautauqua Theater Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, hotINK, Playwrights Horizons, Geva Theatre and the Boston Playwrights Theatre have published Metzler’s plays.

Metzler grew up in Kingston, N.Y. and studied English at Geneseo. She discovered playwriting during the spring semester of her senior year while taking a playwriting class with retired School of the Arts professor Terry Browne.

According to Metzler, Browne helped her realize her passion for playwriting.

“He took the time to pull me aside and say, ‘I think you need to do this with your life. You have what it takes.’ How many teachers take the time to change a student’s life like that? Only at Geneseo,” said Metzler.

She was accepted into Boston University’s MFA Playwriting Program in 2002 and also holds graduate degrees from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and The Juilliard School.

According to an interview with the Los Angeles Times, before attending graduate school at Boston University, Metzler said she realized that she needed to “live a little.” She backpacked across the country and waitressed to support herself. For six months she served tables in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. where she said she learned a lot about the kind of people who lived there and became a “little seduced” by their ways of life.

Metzler cited a woman she got to know in Martha’s Vineyard as the basis for one of the main characters in her play “Elemeno Pea,” which opened this month at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New Plays. Another of Metzler’s plays “Close Up Space” ran off-Broadway through February and starred David Hyde Pierce and Rosie Perez.

Metzler is currently working on commissions for South Coast Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Manhattan Theatre Club.