April 5, 2007

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First look
The Wild West, the Maine coast, King Arthur and the Deep South
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Yellow Taxi’s third play contest in its five-year existence garnered 22 full-length play submissions. Four were chosen for the 2007 Susan McIntyre Play Reading Series. One of those will be chosen for a full production at the Susan McIntyre Play Festival in March 2008.

“As far as I know, we are the only company in New Hampshire who does anything like this,” said Yellow Taxi’s playwright-in-residence Lowell Williams, who headed the play-reading committee. Submissions came from 11 states. The Players Ring in Portsmouth offers a contest, but writers must live within 60 miles.

Without staged readings, “it’s really hard to get real honest critical feedback,” Williams said. Staged readings let the playwright see an audience’s reactions. “You don’t need a full production to recognize what’s good or bad about your play,” Williams said.

The first play on the schedule is Weekend at the Dreaming Cloud, by Kelly DuMar, of Sherborn, Mass., set for Monday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Hunt Building, 6 Main St. in Nashua, directed by Leah Belanger.

“It’s really a love story, but it’s also about recovering and healing from trauma,” DuMar said. Set at a bed and breakfast in coastal Maine, Weekend is hopeful. The characters are “reflecting on the impact of the tragedy in order to transform it,” she said. This is a rewrite DuMar did after a developmental staged reading in Boston last April. DuMar is president of Playwright’s Platform in Boston.

Salisbury Plain is a first attempt by Manchester lawyer Michael Davidow. Written in iambic pentameter with strong female characters, the story is set in King Arthur’s court after his final fight with his son.

“The king comes into his throne through a certain kind of subterfuge” and his son takes the throne in the same way, Davidow said of his play. Davidow followed the Elizabethan practice of including minimal stage direction, leaving producers to decide how lavish or simple staging should be. Salisbury Plain will be read May 21, directed by John Sefel.

The series continues in the fall with The Straight Line by Jerry Bisantz of Lowell, Mass., on Sept. 17. It’s an Old West “male version of Thelma and Louise” complete with a shootout, Bisantz said. Two 50-something men from Boston set out to cross America, but their car breaks down in Nebraska, where they meet a Native American brewmaster and his punk drug-addict girlfriend as well as a one-legged ex-athlete diner owner and the highway patrolwoman who is in love with him.

“It’s really about the [pace of the] world we live in today and how people feel like they really don’t have the chance to make their mark,” Bisantz said. Bisantz is on the boards of Playwrights Platform and Image Theater, a Lowell group that produces unpublished work.

David Robson operates Painted Bird Productions with his wife Sonja in Wilmington, Del. His newest script, After Denmark, will be read in October. In it, Lyndon Sykes receives a mysterious letter after winning a prestigious award.

“In an attempt to find his past — which may be linked to controversial 19th-century black leader Denmark Vesey — the young editor travels to the Deep South,” Robson wrote. Robson was a classmate of Williams’ in their MFA program, but Williams did not read Robson’s submission.

Before reading the scripts, Williams assigned his committee more reading: Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays, by David Ball. Williams looks for convincing characters and requires that all scenes move the story along. Neatness counts, too.


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3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother