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TRNZ icon











On November 1, 2018, Asheville's newest theatre company, The Sublime Theater, will present the world premier of John Crutchfield's latest play, TRNZ, directed by Producing Artistic Director Steve Samuels and starring local favorites Laura Tratnik, Julian Vorus, Terry Darakjy and Olivia Stuller. The show also features original songs and sound design by Mary Zogzas and sets and lighting by Don Baker.

TRNZ is set in modern day Berlin, in an exclusive underground discotheque where a young woman loses her way and is taken in by a mysterious older man. “I’ve always been interested in the dark side of human consciousness, the forces that pull us toward danger and transformation. That interest has grown more acute – and more conflicted – since I became a father,” Crutchfield says. He describes his latest work as “an ambiguous and somewhat creepy mythopoetic phantasmagoria,” adding, “As an artist, that’s just sort of how I roll.” The music for the show is a volatile mixture of minimalist ‘house’ music, cabaret-style songs, German lieder, and 18th Century Baroque orchestrations.       

TRNZ opens November 1, and plays Thursdays through Saturdays through November 17. All performances are 7:30pm at the BeBe Theatre on Commerce Street in downtown Asheville. Tickets are $15 general admission, and are available online or at the door. The show is not appropriate for children.

More information coming soon.










Asheville has a new theater company: The Sublime Theater, co-founded by long-time artistic collaborators Steve Samuels and John Crutchfield with the mission of discovering, producing and publishing excellent new theatrical and literary work, as well as neglected masterpieces. The company’s inaugural production will be the world premier of Crutchfield’s latest play, TRNZ, directed by Samuels, in November of 2018.

Samuels, himself a well-known playwright and actor, has directed many of Crutchfield’s plays over the last decade, at The Magnetic Theatre (which they co-founded in 2009) and elsewhere, including the New York International Fringe Festival. The two have a long-standing artistic and professional relationship, which both see as involving a certain amount of healthy rivalry and mutual challenge. “That’s how the best art happens,” says Samuels. “Artists create for and in response to someone whose good opinion they value and desire, be that a teacher or mentor, another artist, or the audience itself.” Crutchfield couldn't agree more. "That's true anywhere and in any age, but it's especially true today, in small town America," he says. "Once you find someone who understands what you're trying to do with your work, woe betide you if you let them go."











*Malverse: An Urban Myth in Two Acts

On May 13, 2017, the Magnetic Theatre presented the world premier of John Crutchfield's play, Malverse: An Urban Myth in Two Acts. The production was directed by Steve Samuels and starred Gary Gaines, Andrew Gall, Darren Marshall, Laura Tratnik and Valeria Watson. The sound design was by Mary Zogzas, the lighting design by Jason Williams and the set design and construction by the playwright.

Equal parts ghost story, dark comedy and social drama, the play tells the story of a young white couple who start renovating an old house in a traditionally black neighborhood. Soon they find themselves caught up in a secret history that is as volatile as it is complex and ambiguous. "The past is never dead," wrote William Faulkner. "It's not even past."

In a time of intensifying racial conflict, political divisiveness and economic inequality in America - and yes: even in Asheville - the play is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it premiered.

To read Alli Marshall's intelligent review in Mountain Xpress, click here.

The production was supported by grants from the Asheville Area Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council.




John Crutchfield now offers professional translation (German to English) for scholarly/academic, journalistic, literary (poetry and prose) and technical writing, as well as complete editing and proofreading services. Fees range from $75 to $100 per 1000 words for translations (depending on type and length of text), and $20 to $25 per hour for proofreading and editing (depending on scope of project).

For a free estimate, contact John via the email address listed in the footer of this website and on the "Contact" page.

"John Crutchfield ist ein hervorragender Korrekturleser und Übersetzer vom Deutschen ins Englische. Ich würde ihn jederzeit wieder engagieren und empfehle ihn wärmstens." - Dr. K. Wiegandt, Post-Doctoral Scholar in English Philology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

"In 2010, John Crutchfield provided me with an English translation of Willhelm Friedrich Gotter's Die Geisterinsel from 1797 and later, in 2016, with an English translation of Vincenz Hundhausen's 1926 German translation from the Chinese of Wang Sche-fu's Das Westzimmer. In both instances, Crutchfield's translations were methodically clear and concise while still retaining the poetic flavor of the original text. Furthermore, he produced the translations well before our agreed deadlines. I highly recommend John Crutchfield as a translator from German to English, particularly for literary works." - Dr. Ming Tsao, Composer and Professor of Music Composition, University of Goteburg, Sweden 


    terrified eye



*I'm Not Afraid

The English-language theatre ensemble The Fragmented Souls presented the world premiere of their latest original theatrical work, I'm Not Afraid, on December 9 and 10, 2016 at Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte.

The play, created and performed by the ensemble and directed by John Crutchfield, explores the phenomenon of fear in the individual and in society. The ensemble this year included Salvatore Cammisa, Kim Oberbach, Tabea Schelb, Elora-Dana Schörverth, Ella Sinram, Madeline Thomas, Eugine Tschong, Natasha Janzen Ulbricht and Dong Zhao, with assistance by Lydia Richter.

The production was presented by the Department of English Didactics, Freie Universität Berlin.


           Excursus Buck



Full-text playscripts of selected dramatic works by John Crutchfield are now available online at Indie Theatre Now. At present, available scripts include the verse-play triptych of The Songs of Robert, a delightful one-man show about a boy growing up in Southern Appalachia; Ruth, a contemporary adaptaptation of the Biblical story; and The Labyrinth, a wild modern-day retelling of the Orpheus myth. Also available are Solstice, an unsettling black comedy about friendship; Ivory, a realistic drama about personal and professional betrayal in the halls of Academia; Landscape With Missing Person, an "existential romantic comedy" about two misfits journeying across America; and now, as part of the anthology, Best of FringeNYC 2014: Come Thick Night: A Shakespearean Gruselkabinett.

For more info, click here.



*no[w]here home

On Februay 5 and 6, 2016, John Crutchfield directed the world premier of no[w]here home, a new play in English created and performed by students of English Didactics at the Freie Universität Berlin: Yanina Akhmatova, Kim Oberbach, Christina Owen and Aino-Liina Salo, with help from Agnese Troccoli.

no[w]here home uses a variety of theatrical styles and modes to explore the theme of shelter in all its troubling ambiguities: leaving home, searching for home, intimacy and alienation, freedom and entrapment, exile and belonging, protection and exposure.

The show took place at "EB104" and was a co-production of the Sprach- und Kulturbörse (Technische Universität Berlin) and the Department of Didactics, Institute for English Language and Literature (Freie Universität Berlin).








On August 20, 2015, John Crutchfield's lastest one-man show had its world premier at the new Magnetic Theatre (375 Depot Street, in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina). The show was directed and performed by the playwright, and included a special guest appearance by sound-designer and d.j. Mary Zogzas. The show ran for 12 performances, and garnered rave reviews...

The Mountain XPress called it "a madcap tour de force" and "a wild journey of physical and mental dexterity."

The Asheville Citizen-Times called it "an astonishing feat of showmanship" and "a not-to-be-missed theatrical experience."

To read the preview article in the August, 2015 issue of The Laurel of Asheville, click here.

To read the preview article in the August 19th-25th issue of Mountain Xpress, click here.

To read RoseLynn Katz's review in The Asheville Citizen-Times, click here.

To read Jeff Messer's review in The Mountain XPress, click here.


Bad Duck


A presentation of new creative writing
by students of English Didactics at the Freie Universität Berlin


In a special course taught in the Summer Semester, 2015, by writer and theatre artist John Crutchfield, future teachers of English as a Foreign Language studied the art and craft of creative writing, and produced original stories, poems, plays and personal essays in English. On Saturday, July 18th, 2015, they presented selections of their work to an enthusiastic audience in a staged reading at Tatwerk, a performance lab and theatre in Kreuzberg (Berlin, Germany).

For more information on Tatwerk Berlin, click here.

Christmas Lights


Selections from the Intimate Journals of Jacob Higginbotham

John Crutchfield is Featured Writer for the week of May 11, 2015 for the online literary and cultural journal Queen Mob's Teahouse. Five short prose pieces from Crutchfield's unpublished book manuscript Selections from the Intimate Journals of Jacob Higginbotham appear together for the first time.

Click here to read "Snow," "Beards," "Art," "Office" and "Curb"




TOWARD AN AESTHETICS OF FAILURE, Or: Why I Actually Sort of Like Westerns (And You Should Too)

John Crutchfield's latest contribution to the online journal Berfrois examines the author's life-long fascination with that much-maligned genre of American movies: the Western. Part memoir, part cultural history, part film criticism, the essay attempts to answer the question of how something aesthetically bad can actually be good.

To read the essay, click here.


               Young John




As a scholar-alumnus of the John Motley Morehead Foundation (now the Morehead-Cain Foundation) at UNC-Chapel Hill, John Crutchfield was asked to contribute a short prose piece to the Foundation blog or Finals Weekend, when winners of the 2015 Scholarship are announced.

To read the piece, click here.



Unreal City icon


Friday, February 6, 2015 saw the world premier of Unreal City, a new theatrical work in English, conceived and directed by John Crutchfield, and created in collaboration with an ensemble of students in the Institute for English Philology at the Free University of Berlin. The show played to a packed house at Tatwerk, an off-theatre performance space in the Kreuzberg quarter of Berlin, Germany.

Combining drama, choreography, and live soundscapes, the play examines life in the metropolis, with themes ranging from euphoria to loneliness, from boredom to absurdity, and from glimpses of strange beauty to moments of fear, madness and alienation. In its variety of theatrical styles and approaches, the work reflects the truly collaborative method of artistic creation which lay at the heart of the project.




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Now Available from Texas Review Press

This latest volume of the Series founded in 2003 by William Wright and co-edited by Jesse Graves and Paul Ruffin contains a huge variety of contemporary poems, both by established NC poets like Robert Morgan and Kathryn Stripling Byer, and by "emerging" NC poets like, well, John Crutchfield. Two new poems, "Banjo" and "Rattlesnake Lodge," appear from Crutchfield's unpublished manuscript, Natural History.

For more information about the Series, click here.

To order a copy, click here.





: A Domestic Archeology

John Crutchfield's personal essay on home, family, and other temporary shelters has been published by the online journal Newfound: An Inquiry of Place.

To read the essay, click here.







*BLUEBERRIES premieres at ACT

John Crutchfield's short play, Blueberries, premiered on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at Asheville Community Theatre in a production by New Umbrella.

The play was presented as part of Story for Life, an evening of monologues and scenes based upon interviews with senior citizens. Among the other writers featured were Maryedith Burrell, Brenda Lilly, Patricia Greene, Tom Chalmers, Waylon Wood, Carla Pridgen, Dylan Babb, Lyn Nihart, and New Umbrella founder Elisabeth Gray.

"Blueberries" is based upon events in the childhood of celebrated Berlin actor Gerhard Kunath, as narrated to the playwright. The play was directed by Shane Meador and starred Ralph Redpath, Matt Burke, and Juliet Blanks.






Alan Dillman fiddling

photo by Deni McIntyre



THE CRUTCHFIELD PROJECT releases its first full-on bona-fide family-style music video

Saluda, NC-based string band, The Crutchfield Project, has released its first music video, directed and edited by Deni McIntyre.

Fiddler Alan Dillman, bassist Will McIntyre, guitarist Todd Neel, and banjo player John Crutchfield perform the traditional Old-Time tune "Indian Ate a Woodchuck" from their debut record.

To watch the video, click here.

To order the full CD, click here.







Lady with Banjo


KEEPING OLD TIME, Or: The Search for Authenticity in Post-Millennial America

John Crutchfield's essay tribute to Old Time string band music has been published in the online cultural journal, Berfrois: Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters.

Beginning as a portrait of the OT scene in Asheville, North Carolina, the essay goes on to reflect upon the strange popularity of traditional American music among contemporary youth.

To read the essay, visit Berfrois.



CTN poster w/text




*COME THICK NIGHT: A Shakespearean Gruselkabinett goes to the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival

The newly-founded MAUS Theater of Berlin presented the New York premier of John Crutchfield's "chamber of horrors" as part of FringeNYC 2014.

The production was directed by the playwright and starred a top-notch international cast: Laura Tratnik of the Berliner Ensemble and Niels Bormann of the Gorki Theater. Lisa Smith and Abby Hoke-Brady assisted with lighting design and tech, and Davide Carrano coordinated publicity.

To read Indie Theater Now's interview with John Crutchfield about the Fringe production, click here.

To read Greer Gerni's review of the show, click here.

To read Martin Denton's review of the show, click here.

To read Ean Kessler's review of the show, click here.

To read Jody Christopherson's review of the show, click here.

Look for the script in Indie Theater Now's 2014 FringeNYC Collection.


pen and paper



: Toward a Luddite Manifesto

John Crutchfield's literary essay, "How I Lost My Last Pen-Pal," has been published in the online cultural journal, Berfrois: Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters. The essay was subsequently featured in the "Great Essays" series in The Committee Room: Examining the Literary World, accompanied by an interview by TCR editor Mary Kalfatovic.

Beginning with the account of a personal correspondence that mysteriously ceased, the author goes on to reflect upon the place of "snail mail" in contemporary digital culture.   

To read the essay, visit Berfrois.

To read the interview, visit The Committee Room.


John w/ Bike
photo by Alisa Blackwood


: City of Heroes

John Crutchfield's literary essay, "Leipzig: City of Heros" appears in the online cultural journal, Berfrois: Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters. A personal and at times fanciful meditation on time and friendship, the essay recounts the author's experiences over a twenty year period, starting in 1992, in one of Germany's most interesting cities.

To read the essay, visit Berfrois.


not here







*LANDSCAPE WITH MISSING PERSON goes to the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival

The Magnetic Theatre brought its production of John Crutchfield's "existential rom-com" to Teatro LATEA in New York's Lower East Side this past August 10th - 16th for a limited run of five performances as part of the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. Directed by Steve Samuels and starring the original cast (Lisa Miguel Smith, Jennifer Gatti, and John Crutchfield), the play featured sound design by Mary Zogzas, costume design by Laura Tratnik, lighting design by Alex Moore, set design by Shawn Kato Samuel, stage management and board operation by The Smiths (Rodney, Cid, and Madison), and one strange journey across America.

In his extensive and glowing review, Martin Denton, of Indie Theatre Now, described the show as "luminous" and "as close to perfection as theatre ever gets." To read the full review, and for a more intimate glimpse into the production, visit the FringeNYC Reviews page at Indie Theatre Now.

To hear a podcast of Martin's interview with John (recorded August 12, 2013), click here: podcast.

To watch a 5-minute interview with director Steve Samuels, click here: vimeo.

To read Byron Woods's feature article on the production (printed in the August 28th edition of Mountain XPress), click here: Mountain XPress

The script is now available on Indie Theatre Now as part of its Best Of the Fringe series. (see above)



Late in the summer of 2013, fiddler Alan Dillman, guitarist Todd Neel, bassist Will McIntyre, and banjo player (banjist?) John Crutchfield went into the studio with sound engineer Bruce Bartlett to record their first album as an Old Time string band. The release features over a dozen traditional Southern Appalachian fiddle tunes, selected and arranged by Dillman.

The recordings have been regular features on Western North Carolina's favorite public radio station, 88.7 WNCW.

To learn more about the musicians, and to hear (or order) the music, visit the project website: The Crutchfield Project




                    Will on bass

                    Alan fiddling

                              photos by Deni McIntyre



Dahlia and Glenn


*TWELVE TREATISES ON MEMORY: An Epistemological Slapstick (With Sock Puppets)

Anam Cara Theatre in West Asheville presented John Crutchfield's award-winning two-actor play for a brief run in early 2013. The show was directed and produced by Rachel Thomas-Levy, starred Dahlia Legault and Glenn Reed, and included live music by Dylan Suter.

The play tells the story of a strange night in which two "first loves" meet again after a long separation.

For more info, click here.


baby with guitar



In April and May, 2013, John Crutchfield went into the recording studio with singer/songwriter Holiday Childress (of The Goodies fame) and sound engineer Neil Blackwood to lay down percussion and banjo tracks for Childress's forthcoming full-length album of new songs. Look for the release in the near future.

More info to come…







In March 2013, the Magnetic Theatre presented the world premier of John Crutchfield's version of the Pinocchio story, subtitled "A Morality Play In Two Inappropriate Acts"

An irreverent and phantasmogorical adaptation of the original story by Carlo Collodi (famously prettified by Walt Disney in the 1940 animated film), the show was directed by the playwright, and featured an ensemble of Asheville's finest actors playing dozens of different roles--with celebrated puppeteer Madison J. Cripps as the title character. Sound design was by Mary Zogzas, lighting design by Jason Williams, costume design by Elizabeth Evans, and set design by Kehren Barbour.

For more info, click here.



CTM press image

photo by Peter Brezny

*COME THICK NIGHT: A Shakespearean Gruselkabinett

In January, 2013, My Favorite Leg Theatrical Company presented the world premier of John Crutchfield's "chamber of horrors" as part of the 2013 Asheville Fringe Arts Festival.

A nightmarish mash-up of Macbeth and other unspecified but probably dubious sources, the play was directed by the playwright, and featured virtuoso performances by Laura Tratnik and Erik Moellering, with sound design by Mary Zogzas.




Train on the Island

On October 16, 2012, Asheville's original low-fi trio, Train on the Island gave a concert at The Magnetic Field on Depot Street in Asheville's River Arts District.

The band comprises Ben Yanes, Sadie Adams, and John Crutchfield, playing original folk songs plus distinctive interpretations of traditional Appalachian string-band repertoire on banjo, guitar, fiddle, bass drum, harmonica, rust-bucket, slide guitar, mandolin, tomato shaker, tambourine, and three strong voices.

Plans are underway for the band to record a first record…


 band members
 photo by Peter Brezny


John with backpack


Writing For This Stage, These Actors, This Town

Arts Journalist Carol Polsgrove interviewed John Crutchfield on September 27th, 2012 for her website Writers' Lives. Among the topics they discussed is Crutchfield's latest play, Landscape With Missing Person.

To read the interview, click here.


black snow

*BLACK SNOW FLYING UPWARDS, or: My Embarrassment

In July, 2012, Asheville audiences and fans of the perennial Asheville Fringe Arts Festival were treated to a rare reprise of John Crutchfield's strange and riotous solo dance-monologue, Black Snow Flying Upwards, or: My Embarrassment. The occasion was a benefit show for the Festival, presented at the venerable BeBe Theatre on Commerce Street in downtown Asheville, and featured an array of past Festival artists.

For more info on the play, or to download a script, see the "Plays" section on this website.



In August of 2012, The Magnetic Theatre in Asheville's River Arts District presented the world premier of John Crutchfield's "existential romantic-comedy" about a pair of misfits on a journey across America in search of True Love.

The show was directed by Steve Samuels, featured set design by Don Baker, sound design by Mary Zogzas, lighting design by Jason Williams, costume design by Laura Tratnik, prop design by Rodney Smith, and starred Lisa Smith, Jennifer Gatti, and the playwright.

The show played for a month to enthusiastic houses; plans are now being made for a film version.

solstice poster

*SOLSTICE: A Volatile Black Comedy For The Darkest Night Of The Year

John Crutchfield's explosive chamber-theatre piece, SOLSTICE, which premiered in January, 2012, was a cult hit for Asheville's Magnetic Theatre, and garnered rave reviews from the local press. Directed by the playwright, starring Asheville favorites Scott Fisher, Glenn Reed, and Lisa Smith, and featuring an original musical score by Mary Castellaneta, set design by Annette Griffin, and lighting design by Ryan Madden, the play enjoyed a near-sold-out run.

Mountain XPress reviewer David Hopes called the play "simply masterful" and "absolutely convincing and compelling down to the syllable."

To read the full review, click here: XPess review

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*THE SOUTHERN POETRY ANTHOLOGY, vol. III: Contemporary Appalachia

Now available from Texas Review Press

Among the many celebrated and emerging Appalachian poets featured in the new volume of The Southern Poetry Anthology, John Crutchfield lays claim to a page or two with his poems "Ox Creek Road," Wild Leeks," "Trout Lake," and "Meteor Shower," all taken from the unpublished manuscript Blackberry Winter.

For more information, click here: Southern Poetry Anthology


The Bars Of Atlantis_cover_image

*THE BARS OF ATLANTIS: Selected Essays of Durs Grünbein

Now available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Translated from the German by John Crutchfield, Michael Hofmann, and Andrew Shields

Edited by Michael Eskin, who praises Crutchfield's translations for having "beautifully caught the original's stylistic visage...with great fidelity and elegance, while...retaining its mild-to-medium-strong undercurrent of wryness and irony," and for having "managed to follow the original on its many stylistic and intellectual explorations without sacrifiing sense and logical consistency."

For more information, click here: The Bars of Atlantis




THE SONGS OF ROBERT wins "Outstanding Solo Show" at FringeNYC 2009

In August, 2009, John Crutchfield took his quirkily poetic one-man show, The Songs of Robert, to the New York International Fringe Festival. The show ran for five performances at the Milagro Theatre on Suffolk Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side, garnered two very positive reviews, and won the Festival's Overall Excellence Award for "Outstanding Solo Show." For the New York production, Crutchfield worked closely with director Steve Samuels (Artistic Director of The Magnetic Theatre in Asheville) and producer Chall Gray.

To read what the critics had to say, click on the links below:

Time Out New York       NYTheatre

The official playscript is now avalable in the anthology, Plays and Playwrights 2010, edited by Martin Denton. For more information, click here:   Plays and Playwrights 2010

To read the full script online, click here:  Indie Theatre Now

To read Martin Denton's "cyber interview" with John Crutchfield, click here:   Crutchfield interview




*RedDust, by Mathew Rosenblum. For the past year, John Crutchfield has been collaborating with composer Mathew Rosenblum on the libretto for RedDust, an experimental opera comissioned by NYC-based new music ensemble Sequitur. The piece combines text from a variety of sources to tell the story of a young Asian-American writer who must write 10,000 words about a stone that becomes a boy.

*Yugen. John Crutchfield continues to collaborate with choreographers Julie Becton Gillum (of Legacy Butoh) and Sara Baird (of Anemone Dance Theatre) on the creation and performance of butoh, an avant garde Japanese dance form combining elements of Kabuki theatre and German Expressionism. Other members of the ensemble include Jenni Cockrell, Julia Taylor and Erik Moellering.

*The Intimate Journals of Jacob Higginbotham. Over the past several years, John Crutchfield has performed excerpts from his absurdist work-in-progress, an episodic one-man-show about an incompetant dandy obsessed with making marriage proposals to young women in his small town.