On election night, the only white democratic family in a conservative town holds a secret Obama party. But when their gay daughter arrives from the city for the celebration, they discover they are split on a California issue that hits close to the core, raising questions about their own sense of "family."
Carol Carpenter was raised Southern Baptist, came out of the closet at 18, and grew up in the trans-Pecos oil and ranching plains of New Mexico – where the Bible Belt, the Mexican border, the oil business, the West Texas cowboy, and the poor collide to form a landscape of conflict. It is about this world that Carpenter writes.
Thematically, her work deals with the tension between progress and tradition. She pits urban and rural cultures against each other, working class against professional class, religious against secular, then watches them clash and connect. It is in these clashes that her characters find meaning, humor and insight. Viewed as a whole, her work proclaims that progress and tradition need each other; that opposite needs opposite; that without the harmonizing effect of poles, our world is out of balance.
Carpenter's writing strives to uncover and honor the wisdom of all traditions and perspectives - regardless of political persuasion - and to suspend cultural judgments in search of the higher truths that bind the human race. Her influences include Horton Foote, Larry McMurtry, Sam Shepard, Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Anna Deavere Smith, Athol Fugard, Joseph Campbell, Jimmy Carter, Willie Nelson, country and western songwriters, Baptist preachers, right-wing demogogues, left-wing crackpots, the American Southwest and the rich oral tradition of her family and culture. She currently lives between New York City and her home and village of Madrid, New Mexico.
READINGS & PRODUCTIONS
Carpenter's work has been/will be seen at/produced by Barrow Group, MTWorks, Planet Connections Festivity 2010 & 2011, Manhattan Theater Club Studio 3, On the Square Productions, American Southwest Theater (Las Cruces), Acadiana Repertory Theatre (Lafayette), Greer Garson Theater Center (Santa Fe), Mother Road Theater (Albuquerque), Santa Fe Playhouse, Engine House Theater (Madrid) and New Mexico State University (Las Cruces). Her play Good Lonely People was nominated for 6 awards and won Best Playwriting at Planet Connections 2010 as well as Audience Favorite Award at the National NewBorn Play Festival 2010. Her play Sweet, Sweet Spirit was nominated for Best Reading at Planet Connections 2011 and won the 2012 High Desert Play Festival.
EDUCATION & OTHER EXPERIENCE
Carpenter holds a master's degree in dramatic writing from the University of Southern California and taught playwriting and screenwriting at College of Santa Fe (Santa Fe University of Art & Design). She is a company playwright at MTWorks, has published five young adult novels under a pen name with Random House, and spent her twenties working as a story editor and television ad writer at Paramount Pictures.
More About Carol Carpenter
Sweet, Sweet Spirit [October 10, 2014]