In the corner of a room, floorboards. An armchair. A rug. A shelf with a CD player, books and sketch books, paintbrushes. A short bookshelf of books, an easel. A few pencil sketches taped to the wall. Suggestive of an artists house.

Within moments a woman enters, she’s sneaking in. Checking the place out. She hurts herself on the furniture, coughs out a curse word and before too long she’s naked, making herself at home. And so it begins.

Shortlisted for the 2010 Rodney Seaborn Playwriting Award, Tahli Corin’s One For the Ugly Girls has had one previous outing, of sorts, with a reading hosted by Parnassus Den in August this year. I wasn’t able to attend that night as I had been completely stopped in my tracks by a mystery illness. I have not read the script, nor had heard anything about it – except a brief conversation with Tahli about the title – and I agreed with her, it’s a good title. So no prior knowledge about the script. In fact, I don’t think I even really read the synopsis.

The story follows Alistair (Patrick Connolly), a painter of some reputation, who is trying desperately to hold onto the memory of his long term muse – his wife – who has recently passed away. In an attempt to be inspired, he turns to the internet and orders a model to assist him. But Claire (Alice Ansara) is not really much like her internet profile, in any way.

The ideas in the play are good. The cast firmly in each moment of the play. The production humble. And that’s ok with me. I like humble. Infact I think indicative design can be enough. Especially with the production of new work. Perhaps I believe too much in Grotowski? But I think content is king and the play’s the thing.

There’s much to admire about Tahli Corin’s writing. She is not afraid to write about love and questions matters of the heart. I loved Bumming with Jane which I reviewed many years ago when Tahli debuted her writing in the 2008 B-Sharp season (you can read my response here). Her female characters in particular are openly vulnerable, but strong and funny – she writes conflict in which people don’t back down.

In a playwriting culture so obsessed with readings and developments, it is wonderful to see work which is up and out and on. As John MacCallum had said at one of the Novemberism Panel discussions, the 505 Theatre reminded him of his early theatre going days – a testing ground. And indeed that is what Novemberism is intended as – a place for playwrights to test work. And to test themselves and their ideas. And this production was produced very much in that spirit – with a firm DIY factor about it – energetic and gleaming with enthusiasm. Sometimes, as a writer, you can only answer the questions you have about your work when it sits infront of an audience.

I believe that audiences and productions (not just workshops or readings) develop playwrights. It makes them lift their game. Especially when there the thought of someone paying $30 for a ticket.

Corin’s Novemberism offering, One for the Ugly Girls is a testament to her passion and curiosity. There she sits with a tower of coloured hats on her head – producer, director, playwright, festival curator, box office staffer, new work advocate, Novemberism MC and marketeer.

And all I can says is “Wow.”