Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights' Center

Theater is my religion, and I couldn't be happier to return to the mother church; the Playwrights' Center is back! Of course, they never really went away. They swiftly transitioned to virtual readings of new work in March 2020 and have been continuing to support playwrights locally and across the country in the development of new work, while providing jobs to actors and artists in a time when there were not many arts jobs to be had. But now they're back in their South Minneapolis space in an old church with live in-person readings of new works. The Ruth Easton New Play Series is an annual festival of workshops and readings presented monthly, now through February. There will be two limited-seating in-person readings of each, that will be recorded and made available to watch virtually. You do need to make reservations for both in-person and virtual, but it's free! Below is the schedule of readings as well as my thoughts. Click here for all the details and to make your free reservation.

Current Reading:

by Carson Kreitzer
In-person: Tuesday, October 5, and Wednesday, October 6 at 7 p.m. CDT
Available online: Wednesday, October 13 – Tuesday, October 19
Director: Leah Cooper
Sound design consultant: C Andrew Mayer
Cast: Arcadia German, Robert Dorfman, Lamar Jefferson, George Keller, DJ Mendel, Sarah Myers, Adán Varela, Dexieng Yang
Summary: A scientist testifies before Congress. Old lovers reunite. A man at the top of the Andes paints the mountaintop white, chasing the receding line of snow. What is the correct response to a world on fire? Originally commissioned by the American Repertory Theater, with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, TIMEBOMB is a new climate change comedy (yep, a comedy) that asks: What do we do now?
My thoughts: "A climate change comedy," indeed! This play manages to deal with the very serious and tragic issues facing the planet as the result of climate change in a humorous and human way. Several storylines intersect in the character of Rebecca, a scientist/activist testifying before Congress. We jump around in time and space to see what's led her to this pivotal moment. The global issues are informed by the personal issues of Rebecca's relationships with friends, lovers, family. This beautiful play is a great example of how theater can explore the big issues in a different way than a lecture or documentary, and illuminate the human side of things.

Future Readings:

by Gina Femia
In-person: Tuesday, November 2, and Wednesday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. CDT
Available online: Wednesday, November 10 – Tuesday, November 16
Kevin owns a Romance Depot. Beth needs a vibrator. The two of them form an unlikely relationship that straddles the line between friendship and romance. What happens when two lonely people find one another? A funny and heartbreaking play that explores the complex intersections of sex, sexuality, love, romance, and trauma.  

by TyLie Shider
In-person: Tuesday, December 7, and Wednesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. CST
Available online: Wednesday, December 15 – Tuesday, December 21
A contemporary docudrama that follows a diverse community of neighbors quarantined in Whittier, Minneapolis, days after the murder of George Floyd.

by Gracie Gardner
In-person: Tuesday, January 18, and Wednesday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m. CST
Available online: Wednesday, January 26 – Tuesday, February 1
There’s something weird about the kid. She’s making everything confusing. Things were simpler before. Getting away on the weekends provides some clarity. Carl doesn’t believe in vacations. Pete is at peace, and won’t budge. They are friends, they have nothing in common except the situations. Everything is turning into something else. What if nothing went wrong? 

by Ray Yamanouchi
In-person: Tuesday, February 8, and Wednesday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m. CST
Available online: Wednesday, February 16 – Tuesday, February 22
2004, in a small, suburban town in Long Island, New York, five Asian American teenage friends battle through high school—where they’re marked as Asians—and their ethnic home fronts—where they’re too American. Finding solace only amongst each other, they attempt to define for themselves what it means to be an Asian in America… For better or for worse.