Play-Reading Group for Four

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Play-Reading Group for Four

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sep 26, 2007, 9:46 pm

There are a group of four of us that get together once a month at my home and read plays. All the others took a lot of drama in school and then became lawyers and stuff. I was born to a stage mom and fortunately she had enough personal activity in that regard (Little Theatre and such) that my life wasn't utterly ruined. But I sure did a lot of stuff in theatre till I was in my early 20's. Then dropped it like a hot rock.

But I've always wanted to see the many August Strindberg plays I'll never get a chance to see produced so I figured I get some interested folks and we could read them. I did. We do. it's a lot of fun. We have a drink and a knosh and read a couple of one-acts or a three-act. But we haven't to the Strindberg yet as it demands so many voices.

Material can be tough to come by for four voices! We read everything cold and so it's tough to get plays with 6 or 8 characters because we don't know, as we start, which characters will have the lion's share of material and who should pick up the additional characters and such.

We ordered a half dozen short plays from Dramatists Play Service, which has a search facility for number of parts and gender. Pretty cool:

But now that we've done a number of those much of the rest of the material, which is plenty, is unknown to us. So it's tough to just rummage around and pick blind.

Anybody have any recommendations for 2 male / 2 female plays that are interesting? Particularly where all four have significant roles. Or perhaps 3 /3 with a couple of the roles being quite minor. That would be fine too.

Any recommendations appreciated.

-- Gerry

sep 26, 2007, 11:01 pm

I just browsed a bit around that site. I've seen Two Sisters and a Piano by Nilo Cruz ( ); that would fit your bill.

Guillem Clua's Skin in Flames also has 2 male/2 female roles. Here's a synopsis and sample scene from the translator's website: Don't know if it would be easy to get a script, though.

Glass Menagerie? David Auburn's Proof?

Karen Zacarias' Mariela in the Desert has 3/3, but I can't off the top of my head remember the balance of them.

I presume Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has been done?

Redigeret: sep 27, 2007, 6:56 pm

Lee Blessing usually has rather small casts and are usually quite good. Two Rooms is one of my favourite.

Also, David Lindsay-Abaire is usually pretty smallish. He just won the Pulitzer for Rabbit Hole.

A very fun one that I've read recently is Adam Bock's Swimming In The Shallows. Although reading it was great but it was even better onstage. He's with a small publisher that's only producing very new plays called Playscripts, Inc. So it may be difficult to get a hold of.

Bridget Carpenter's UP is great too.

I'm currently working at a shakespeare festival and the upcoming season has a few new plays that I've wanted to recommend to people but they aren't even published yet!

Don't be scared off by plays with a lot of people in them, a cast of 10-12 shouldn't be too difficult of an undertaking. Usually you can just do a quick zip through the script to see who's got the lines and who doesn't and the dramatis personae will give you a clue. Just look for the characters who have a lot of dialogue together and make sure one person isn't saddled with the full dialogue. You'll get to read some really exciting plays that way. Like Karel Capek's The White Plague or R.U.R.

I would stay away from David Edgar plays though, those are usually very busy and have casts upwards 24 - 30 characters, sometimes more in the case of Entertaining Strangers. You'll just end up pulling out your hair.

sep 27, 2007, 3:39 pm

Many thanks for the suggestions. All duly noted and salted away. I'll undoubtedly snag a few if they are available via Dramatists. They sure do make things easy and relatively inexpensive.

Glass Menagerie and Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf haven't come up as they were too very well known by the crew. We were all kind of excited about cold reads on things we were unfamiliar with. But I assume we will eventually do such stuff as this rolls out over time.

We've only been at it for about 5 months. And nobody has much time for organization. I'm trying to assert myself in that regard: provide a list of the next few months in advance, juggle any complaints, then scan/duplicate copies.

A local bookstore (Book Baron in Anaheim) is going under. They an stunning number of book shelves of plays and theatre-related material. The plays alone probably occupy over 8-shelf bookcases. And they are selling everything off for 60% off. I got back a truck up down there.

Just made a quick scan of it last week. Noted they had two or three single-play publications of Clifford Odetts, who I've always liked. But no mega-collection. I may go get them anyway.

I'm also toying with writing a few scenes to see if I can get something going that-a-way.

Regarding the Shakespeare festival--is this the one in Oregon? One of my crew just got back from a full week at the place and they were raving about how much fun they had.

-- Gerry

sep 27, 2007, 7:16 pm

It is indeed. I'm glad they enjoyed themselves and it's good that they came when they did. The outdoor shows close next week and the season will end in a month so their timing was perfect. Good luck with your group read.

sep 29, 2007, 6:21 pm

Waiting for Left and Other Plays is a good anthology with what I think are his best plays, his earlier works.

sep 29, 2007, 6:22 pm

oops -- that was Waiting for Lefty...

sep 30, 2007, 2:58 am

I hope I encounter it.