Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights' Center

Have you been to The Playwrights' Center lately? Their Ruth Easton New Play Series is in full swing, in which they present two readings of a new work of theater the first (or second) week of the month, December through April. Unfortunately I can't make it to all of them, but the ones I have seen have been creative, interesting, new, and read by a fab cast full of #TCTheater faves. You never know what you're going to get at PWC, so why not take a chance and be part of the new play development process? Read on for more details on this month's reading and other readings in the series, then head out to the Playwrights' Center tonight to catch the second reading of Malvolio! Did I mention it's FREE?!

Monday, February 3, 2020 - 7:00pm
Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - 7:00pm
Written by: Betty Shamieh
Director: Jade King Caroll
Cast: Maggie Bearmon Pistner, Mark Benninghofen, Pearce Bunting, Aimee K. Bryant, Charity Jones, Meghan Kreidler, Carolyn Pool, Eric Sharp, Eric "Pogi" Sumangil, Steven Yoakam, and Tony Sarnicki
Description: In this sequel to Twelfth Night, Malvolio is a famed general fighting in an endless war against a “Barbarian” nation. He encounters Volina, the serious-minded daughter of Viola and Orsino, who disguises herself as a male to enlist in his army. Volina tries to teach Malvolio that unbelievably good fortune—and a young lover—is always the best revenge.
My thoughts: This funny, silly, modern sequel to Shakespeare's classic comedy (which, BTW, you can see at the Guthrie beginning this weekend starring an entirely local and fabulous cast) turns the idea of "happily ever after" on its head. Some two decades later, all of the happy unions at the end of Twelfth Night have soured. Our heroine is Volina, daughter of an unhappy Viola and a ridiculous Orsino, who is more interested in fighting for her country than marrying the pompous prince. Poor ridiculed Malvolio is now a respected general, commanding a company of "cross-gartered" men, but still scarred from past bullying. Shakespearean references and common tropes (mistaken identities, long lost children, and coming back from the dead) all come together in this light, silly, fun play.

Upcoming readings:

#ROYCE by Darren Canady
Monday, March 2 & Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m.
Darnell, Cam, and Bruce are three queer black men with a deep friendship that goes back years and has sustained them over time, distance, and the instability of life’s vicissitudes. But when Bruce’s lover is killed in a murky encounter with police, the fallout tests the trio’s bond, forcing each man to confront the colliding complexities of race, sexuality, geography, violence, and male intimacy.

Tha Chink-Mart by Ray Yamanouchi
Monday, April 6 & Tuesday, April 7 at 7 p.m.
In a small, suburban town in Long Island, New York, five Asian American teenage friends struggle to survive high school. The majority of the student body views them as "Asian“ and their families consider them too "American.“ Finding solace only amongst each other, they attempt to define for themselves and embrace what it means to be an Asian in America.

Past readings:

December by Marisela Treviño Orta
Monday, December 9 & Tuesday, December 10 at 7 p.m.
When college poetry instructor Carolina and her student Benjamin first meet, an attraction blossoms, but the possibility of romance is halted by Carolina, who cannot overlook the age difference in good conscience. Spanning twenty years, this May-December romance follows Carolina and Benjamin as they meet at three different moments in their lives. December is a meditation on love, poetry, and timing.

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 7:00pm
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 7:00pm
Written and performed by: Jeffrey Hatcher & Sandra Struthers
Stage directions read by: Jennifer Blagen
Director: Larissa Kokernot
Dramaturg: Jeremy B. Cohen
Design consultant: Joel Sass
Lighting design: snem DeSellier
Apprentice stage manager: Sunny Thao
Description: When playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and actress Sandra Struthers co-write a show about novelist Henry James and actress/suffragette Elizabeth Robins, sparks fly and tempers flare. Dancing between Victorian England and the present, AUTHOR AUTHOR explores questions of friendship and power in male-female relationships with wit, heartbreak, and a dash of mystery. Tracking gender dynamics across history, AUTHOR AUTHOR is a #MeToo play that‘s less interested in pointing fingers than finding connection.
My thoughts: This play about a playwright and an actor writing a play about a playwright and an actor writing a play is clever, witty, moving, personal, historical, and very meta. "Playwright who occasionally acts" Jeff and "actor who occasionally writes" Sandra portray three sets of characters/times/realities that all speak to each other, and to today. They're themselves, they're Henry and Elizabeth, they're the characters in Henry's book The Americans that he's adapting into a play, with Elizabeth's help. Elizabeth helps Henry flesh out the female character in his play, and Sandra helps Jeffrey do the same; women want to be more than just a man's muse. But it's more complicated than that, as the present and past writers bring themselves and their histories into the work that they're doing, and the timelines begin to overlap. It's truly a fantastic and unique play about art, gender politics, relationships, and partnership.