Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why Have Staged Readings?

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is on the verge of completing its inaugural season of staged readings. The first Tuesday evening after a MainStage show opens, audiences have seen staged readings of the following:
  • Home of the Brave by Arthur Laurents
  • Love Letters by A. R. Gurney
  • Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
  • Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin by Deborah Gray, the world premiere of a script written by a local playwright, performed in conjunction with A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth
  • A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth by Scott Haan, the world premiere of a script written by a local playwright, performance in conjunction with Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin
The final staged reading for the 2007-2008 season is Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz. It will be held May 13, 2008, at the Monon Depot Theater in downtown Lafayette.

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette has numerous productions throughout the year, including five MainStage shows, four Civic Youth Theatre shows, two shows at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater during the summer in its Civic Under the Stars season, and even an occasional performance by the community improv group. Additionally, it offers several classes for youth in the surrounding area and hosts an annual fundraiser called The Tour of Terror each October. With so many productions already offered, why create a staged reading series?

For any number of reasons, there are scripts that may not be good candidates for a full production — expansive requirements for sets, lights, costumes, props — at Civic. Some scripts have casts that are too large or too small. Some have thematic elements that may be considered controversial. Still others may not have the name recognition that initially piques an audience’s interest. But many of these types of scripts are worthy of an audience’s attention in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and the extended area. The staged readings series was implemented to provide a forum for audience, actors and directors to be exposed to these scripts.

The pared-down feeling of a staged reading may at first seem a distraction — the actors keep their scripts in hand at all time and read from it, props are often pantomimed, there is a minimal set and very little staging — but it only enhances the words in the scripts themselves. Audiences can focus on the subtle shifts in tone in Pia Zadora Sings Gershwin, the rat-a-tat rhythm of quips and comic zingers of A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth, the subtext and hidden meanings of words and phrases in Doubt and Love Letters, and the heart-wrenching agony of soldiers at war in Home of the Brave.

Finally, staged readings expose the audience to the people presenting the script. At each staged reading there is a talk back session during which the audience asks questions of the actors, directors and — in the case of the world premieres — the playwrights. The process of putting on a show is laid bare for any audience member who wants to ask about it.

Keep looking to this blog to learn about the staged reading series for the 2008-2009 season. The committee has put in a lot of hours, and there are some exciting plans in the works. There will also be posts about the staged readings previously held during this season.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Very well said Steve. This program is very exciting with lots of potential for wonderful evenings, like this past Tuesday.

Thank you for taking this on with such gusto.