Finn Gallagher (C’21) (left) performs in another one of his plays, The Toothache, in the spring of 2018. Photo by Matthew Hembree (C’20).
By Dakota Collins
“The act of writing,” said Finn Gallagher (C’21), from his usual spot in McClurg, “is the worst thing in the world.”
A week or so prior, on the eve of Halloween, Gallagher’s comedy play Minnesota Nice had its first staged reading in the Studio Theater of the Tennessee Williams Center.
From its humble beginnings as, in Gallagher’s words, “a stupid 10-minute play” formulated in his freshman year playwriting class with Visiting Assistant Professor of English Elyzabeth Wilder, Minnesota Nice has grown up to a full-length show which drew a small yet captivated audience, among which numbered Wilder, who found a baby sitter for the occassion.
Despite a handful of the self-deprecating jokes typical of artists, while watching the staged reading, Gallagher laughed right along with his audience, and often bent his head to scribble notes on a pad of paper in his lap, the whole time smiling to himself.
After the reading, there was a talkback where some audience members stayed behind to provide constructive feedback. As his play was discussed, Gallagher strove to maintain a neutral expression, but still, a certain amount of shy pride bled through in the wake of his show’s success.
Minnesota Nice is set to be staged in mid-April of 2020, and, as Gallagher’s friend Tristan Ketcham (C’21)—who played the role of the son in the staged reading—made sure Gallagher noted, open auditions will be held by the Sewanee Student Theater Company in early spring. The comedy takes place in 1980s Minnesota, and follows an absent father’s return home to attempt to convince his nuclear family to join a cult.
When not writing, Gallagher is known to perform impromptu magic tricks, and last Summer could even be seen performing for tourists and bachelorette parties on the streets of his hometown, Nashville, TN, where he began his comedy writing career as head writer for his highschool comedy sketch team.
Gallagher is excited to see the play on its feet in the spring. Despite his declaration, “The act of writing is the worst thing in the world,” Gallagher was soon to add, “but, once you’re finished, it’s electric, and it comes to life in a way it couldn’t have before.”