Five years ago, playwright and new doctoral student, Garrett Milton, stared out of the upstairs window of his newly acquired duplex in Michigan. As a new grad student, Garret had a great many questions on his mind: "Did I make the right decision to leave family and friends? Do I have what it takes to do this? Can I really eat macaroni and cheese three nights in a row?"
Lost among his thoughts, Garret's gaze falls upon the active rail yard that is located less that one hundred yards from the house, replete with the sound of loud whistles and glasses rattling in cupboards. Garret is quick to mention, with a hint of pride, that he comes from a variety of "ne'er-do-wells" and "vagabonds," many of which have "at one time or another hopped trains across the country illegally, all obsessed with the idea of "getting out."
Considering his background, it is easy to discover the inspiration for Outbound, a play set around two friends in a train yard contemplating life, failure, vulnerability,
and "what makes us run." Thinking both of his family and his surroundings, Garret
got to work. As a self-professed writing hermit. Garret prefers to "crawl away and
hide" when working on projects: "I've always been envious of those who can churn out
pages in a public place. I've tried it but it just isn't for me."
Imagine Garret hidden away in a tiny room drinking his cold brew and typing away to the sound of train whistles in the background.
Outbound premiered at the Texas Tech Arts and Humanities Conference where Garret was named
Runner Up for Excellence in Playwriting. As a playwright and scholar, he is most interested
in new play development, which is one of the reasons that he feels honored that this
play was chosen to be a part of this season's RROAPS/RRADS lineup. New play development
is often challenging, whether it be a lack of dedicated resources or artists who are
uninterested in developing new works. Garret finds the challenges to be varied and
extremely nuanced: "It really all depends on where you are, with whom you're working,
and what you're trying to accomplish. But I would say, so far, that the RROAPS process
has been nothing short of encouraging, professional, and supportive". When asked if
he plans to continue developing Outbound into a longer piece, Garret hopes that his
characters are so dense that people will want more. He then gives a little laugh and
states, "At least, that's what I keep telling myself." He goes on to say that even
though he is thrilled that this work resonates so well with audiences, he has no plans
to expand upon this world
Plays are not the only thing that is new in Garret's life. Having recently become a father, his life has changed in myriad ways, including his writing process: "Before my daughter was born, I could write whenever, staying up with the owls or getting up early with the sun, but now I find myself having to be much more precise and efficient with both my time and my writing," both of which, he states, are good changes in his life!