The term “genius” gets thrown around all the time, but for playwright Samuel D. Hunter, it’s no idle boast.

An Idaho native, Hunter, now 40, earned early renown as a 2014 MacArthur Fellow—commonly called the “Genius Grant”—for his drama, often set in his home state.

On Thursday, June 10, Hunter will stop by The Community Library in Ketchum to discuss his process for bringing human stories from the page to the stage. Hunter will join Jenny Emery Davidson, executive director of the Community Library, and Jonathan Kane of Sawtooth Productions outdoors on the library’s Donaldson Rob Family Green from 5-6 p.m. The event is free to attend—just bring a chair or a blanket.

It’s the first of several local engagements for the Moscow native, culminating in a workshop production of his newest play, “A Case for the Existence of God,” which will run from June 30 to July 10 at Reinheimer Ranch south of downtown Ketchum. Paul Lazar, a New York theater veteran, directs. Before then, Lazar himself will take the stage to perform his own one-man show, “Cage Shuffle,” outside at the Library on June 21 from 6-7 p.m.

Kane’s Sawtooth Productions partnered with Laughing Stock Theater, Field Daze and the Argyros Theater to bring both to Ketchum. “A Case for the Existence of God” marks the valley’s largest-scale professional production since COVID-19 swept through, Kane said.

Like much of his work, Hunter’s new play is set in Idaho—this time, south down state Highway 75 in Twin Falls.

“We are so excited to be a part of sharing Sam Hunter’s and Paul Lazar’s work with our community, and to be working closely with Jon Kane and Sawtooth Productions,” Martha Williams, programs and education manager at The Community Library, said in a statement. “These outdoor events throughout June and into July are bringing tremendous talent into the Wood River Valley, encouraging us to think deeply about stories, performance and interpretation, and human resiliency.

“Hearing from these acclaimed artists is a real treat and an incredible start to our summer.”

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

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