Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Readers Theatre: Taking Notes

In an effort to improve our own reading series, I went to see a reading of Lorenzaccio, presented by Theatre by the Book.

Theatre by the Book is a readers' theatre, the brainchild of Rafael and Kimberly de Acha, founders of New Theatre in Coral Gables. Their mission is to read world classic literature that usually is not done or haven't been done in a long time due to economic constraints (hmmm, sounds so familiar, can't put my finger on it right now).

It was a cast of 10 actors, there was minimal movement and their scripts were set in binders which was nice and uniformed.

In the past four years, I have seen classic plays have getting revivals in intimate settings. No costumes, sets and props. Just actors, audience and the only thing standing between them is a few music stands.

The Fantasy Theatre Factory (a children's theatre company no doubt) implemented adult programming into their repertoire with PlayMondays, a series of readings dedicated to classic and contemporary plays. They presented their readings from January to May for two years at the St. John's United Methodist Church. Plays from Eugene Ionesco and Tony Kushner were submitted for public consumption showing huge ranges in interesting material.

Palm Beach Dramaworks set up a Master Playwright series dedicated to three legendary scribes, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and Henrik Ibsen. They would do scenes from their plays in one month, then the following month there was full reading of their work. It was sold out in minutes when the series was announced. We hope they do it next year.

Take Heed Theatre Company just finished their Page to Stage campaign at the Cuillo Centre for the Arts in West Palm Beach. They ran the gamut from Tennesse Williams, Amiri Baraka, and William Shakespeare. To spinoff their project, their closer of A Midsummer Night's Dream will realized fully in collaboration with Rude Mechanical (ha ha) Productions as they merrily travel from WPB to Boca Raton next year.

Fort Lauderdale's Sol Theatre Project has finally jumped into the playreading game after seven years of existence with their own take on Midsummer last month. Their next reading, Of Mice and Men will be present this month.

Theater by the Book plans a yearly slate of readings at different venues around Miami-Dade County. They started in April with Thorton Wilder's Our Town at GableStage and will continue on with one reading each month. To check out their list, check out http://www.theaterbythebook.org/.

It is nice to know that in this world of new, original development and an occasional musical to boot, that the classics are being dusted off and performed once again creatively. I hope that this trend continues.

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