Trull's play “Honeyboy” won the 2009 Charles M. Getchell Award (Southeastern Theatre Conference) and was featured in Southern Theatre magazine.
Other productions include “Wake-Walking” (Greensboro College), “Viewers Like You” (Theatre Three, N.Y.), “Anything, Anything You Want” (n.u.f.a.n. ensemble, Chicago), “Outing the Badger” (Little Fish Theatre, Calif.), and the musicals, “Perseus in Suburbia” and “Silent Pictures” (Fly-By-Night Theatre, N.C.).
He received his MFA in playwriting from Spalding University, and teaches at Greensboro College and Guilford Technical Community College.
A theatrical approach to book reports led a former Gastonia man to what is now his career and his passion.
Tommy Trull said he learned in junior high school how to get good grades on book reports – perform.
Trull was doing his rendition of Tom Sawyer for his class when a Grier Junior High School drama teacher dropped by. The teacher liked what he saw and encouraged Trull to take drama.
That was the jumping off point for Trull’s life in the theater.
Trull recently wrapped up a production in New York City. His play, “The 27 Club,” was part the New York International Fringe Festival.
A playwright and college professor, Trull not only wrote but performed in the production.
A start in Gaston
Trull’s family moved to Gastonia when he was 1.
He spent grade school in Gaston County and a semester at Belmont Abbey.
Once Trull embraced his love of the theater, he jumped in with both feet – acting in school productions and in shows with the Little Theater of Gastonia.
Trull said his most memorable experience locally was playing George Gibbs in “Our Town” with the LTG at the age of 15. His performance led him to play the same part in Gaffney, S.C.
Margaret Smith went to school with Trull and volunteered in community theater with him. She said Trull stole the show when he performed in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and she remembers fondly his part in “Our Town.”
She called the show, and Trull’s performance, magical.
Trull graduated from Ashbrook High School at 17 and went to Belmont Abbey before moving to UNC Greensboro. He’s stayed in eastern North Carolina since.
The write stuff
Trull teaches a variety of classes, from theater appreciation to playwriting analysis, at Greensboro College and Guilford Technical Community College.
But his entire theatrical prowess isn’t devoted to the classroom.
Trull spends time each day to write plays. He’s written three musicals, eight full-length productions and 20 short plays.
Thanks to modern-day technology, Trull said he can write anywhere, but he prefers to settle in at his desk in his office at home.
“I make sure that somehow I write somewhere every day,” he said.
Trull said he feels fortunate that all of his plays have been produced or are in the process of being produced.
Right now he’s got multiple irons in the fire, from short plays coming up at High Point University to a full-on production scheduled to debut next summer.
‘The 27 Club’
Trull’s play, “The 27 Club,” went on stage in New York for five performances, a part of the festival that includes selected productions. His was one of 185.
“It’s very high visibility. It’s a very big deal up here,” he said. “It’s a very prestigious thing to be involved with.”
Trull didn’t intend to act in the show he’d written, but when an actor had to drop out of the five-person cast, he jumped in.
Trull said he trusted his director explicitly and had a great time performing with his fellow actors.
The play takes its name from a list of pop stars who died at the age of 27.
According to a review on nytheatre.com, the play focuses mostly on a musician’s relationship with his father – using flashbacks to childhood to develop the characters.
Nytheatre.com critic Kimberly Wadsworth denotes Trull’s writing as the sixth star in the play.
Trull’s cast and crew spent Aug. 8-19 in the Big Apple. Their last performance was Sunday. A speedy road trip later that night, and Trull was back in the classroom Monday.
Art in the family
Trull came from an artistic background.
In addition to his interest in theater, he plays piano and guitar. His wife, Mara Norris, is an actress and a vocal teacher. Their 13-year-old daughter, Skye, is interested in music and has started writing her own songs.
Trull said he works hard but acknowledges he’s had some real breaks in his career.
“I’m aware that I’ve been very lucky. There are a lot of hardworking writers that haven’t had as much success getting productions,” he said. “I work pretty hard, and I try not to be a jerk. That seems to work for me.”
You can reach reporter Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817 and twitter.com/GazetteDiane.