Southern Theatre Magazine Features D.W. Gregory

In an interview with Southern Theatre Magazine, playwright D.W. Gregory talks about her award-winning new comedy A THING OF BEAUTY.

A tale of art, commerce and censorship in 1950s New England, A Thing of Beauty is the winner of the 2023 Charles Getchell New Play Award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference. It was developed in a workshop at The Barter Theater at its Festival of Appalachian Plays and Playwrights in the spring of 2023.

The script marries elements of farce and  Restoration comedy. Gregory talks about the play and her development as a writer in an interview for Southern Theatre Magazine with  Lauren Brooke Ellis, chair of the Playwriting Committee with SETC.

An excerpt:

LBE: I think one of the things that’s striking me, is talking about this balance of the levity of entertainment and compelling them to come to theatre and revealing to them this lens on the culture, which goes back to your play, “A Thing of Beauty,” which was this year’s Getchell winner. I feel this play strikes that balance really well and so I would love to ask you where the play came from in terms of inspiration and process, and what ideas were you exploring with it?

DWG: There’s a couple of triggers. One was that I had come across this photograph, it’s a pretty famous picture. It’s this woman, a proper looking matron, who’s looking through a shop window, and what she’s looking at is a nude portrait of a woman and her bare backside sticking up, she’s bending over, and the woman who’s looking through the window, her eyes are popping in horror. It’s a really funny picture. And this reminded me of an outdoor art show that happened in my home town when I was a kid. I would say 90% of it is what I would call postcard art, the sort of thing you’d see on a tourist postcard. It was all very benign, very mainstream realism. You didn’t feel like you were looking at that subject matter through an eye that is critical or an eye that has a fresh new  perspective. It was just straight on, “This is a barn, isn’t that a pretty scene? Let’s hang this up in the bathroom.”

So I thought about that art show and how that painting of a lady’s bare backside would go over with the judges. When I wrote that first scene, I just riffed, and all of a sudden this character came to me–thinking about the arts matrons, and I think every town has someone like that– wealthy women who sponsor the prizes and hold the teas and fundraisers. They ’re trying to support the arts in their community and God bless them for that, but they have a certain stifling sensibility, and suddenly Mrs. Bouffant appeared out of nowhere with her secretary.

So I went back to it and I started thinking about the other characters in the play. Who won the prize? Who were the judges? This was 2019, so a lot of stuff was in the air, you know, in the zeitgeist. And all of the conversations happening about representation in art, and so I thought, all of this sort of rolls into this story, but this is really about class. So the issue of access to art, and who can really break into these rarified worlds, and who the gatekeepers are, and the barriers to somebody who’s just trying to get by in the world.

The complete interview, along with excerpts from the play n Southern Theatre Magazine online at