By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - Nate Metcalf, a 1991 graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School, is not only an actor and director of theater, but now he is a published playwright, as well.
Being the son of two theatre directors Dave and Linda Metcalf of Cokato, theatre runs in Nate’s blood.
His first script was written in 2003, for his brother, Jox Metcalf, who is the high school theater director at St. Michael-Albertville High School. It was titled “Mi a Fenebe,” and was based on a Hungarian folk tale about a traveler walking to the end of the universe. On the way, he meets strange and bizarre creatures who teach him how to do impossible things, according to Metcalf.
In 2005, he wrote his second script titled, “Masterpiece,” in collaboration with Jox, and his one-act play students.
Metcalf would write the lines and come back to the students for their opinions.
In fact, the students were rehearsing the first half of the play before Metcalf was even finished writing the second half of the script, he said.
The idea for the script came from Metcalf’s love for the arts.
“The biggest problem with society, in my opinion, is the downfall of the arts in our culture. I wanted to write a story about the glory of art,” Metcalf said.
“Masterpiece” is a play about a painter who is trying to find her own great masterpiece, explained Metcalf.
The story then becomes a parable about life in general and how people try to find that one place in life where they belong, he added.
Metcalf called the play “happy and life-affirming.”
The performance of this play was the winner of the 2005 Wells Fargo Spotlight on the Arts Award for Excellence, starring at the state festival.
A judge from the Minnesota State High School League commented, following the festival, that the play is “Just a lovely piece of theatre . . . We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the visual elements, which were just stunning . . . There are just so many wonderful things about this, but the thing that overrode all the beautiful stuff was its innocence and whimsy.”
In September 2007, Metcalf sent “Masterpiece” to the largest script publisher in the world, Samuel French, Inc.
In February 2009, a year-and-a-half after “Masterpiece” was sent, getting no response, Metcalf was ready to submit it to other publishing companies.
Then, Metcalf got an e-mail from the publishing company congratulating him that they liked the play and wanted to publish it under Baker’s Plays, a division of the publisher geared toward high school and youth performances.
“Masterpiece” is now published and available for purchase around the world at www.bakersplays.com for $4.50.
Performance royalties are $35. Metcalf will receive a percentage of both, he said.
Metcalf currently works for the National Theatre for Children, based out of Minneapolis, where he writes, directs, and does technical work.
Many of the plays he writes and directs are “silly and goofy and about societal issues,” like bullying, nutrition, and water conservation.
“It’s fun to have these one-acts to express my more serious side,” he said.
With “Masterpiece” having been published, he is rejuvenated at work and energized to write even more plays.
He was asked by his father and brother to have two more written before the one-act season begins in January, Metcalf said.
“If I can get my act together, one would be performed by DC,” he said.
He is thinking about a biographical story about William Shakespeare.
Any biography about Shakespeare is going to be 5 percent fact and 95 percent theory, Metcalf said.
‘There are few things we know of absolute certainty about Shakespeare and the rest is theorized or blatantly made up,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why can’t I theorize about him?’”
In 2007, Metcalf also wrote the one-act play, “And Flights of Angels,” which his brother directed and also starred in at state.
Metcalf’s inspiration is Steve Dietz, a Minnesota playwright who wrote “More Fun Than Bowling.” Metcalf takes from Dietz his technique of using multiple narrators with very short lines.