Readings of new plays by local playwrights featured

“Moonlighting 2015: A Change is Coming …” — new short plays by local playwrights — will be presented in Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s series of dramatic readings which opens this Friday afternoon, July 17, at Grizzly Peak Winery followed by performances on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, at the Ashland Community Center.

Transformation (personal, social, and political) is a recurring theme throughout the series. Many of the plays reflect life’s dramatic turning points laced with wry humor.

“The beginning of this play was written in the waiting room of my doctor approaching an operation,” said Phil Loveless about his play, “No Women Allowed.” “The end of the play was written after the operation. Had I not made it (through the operation), the play would have been a lot shorter.”

Resistance to social change and reinforcement of the status quo is also explored in several monologues. “Their protagonists are near the top of the food chain … They see massive changes on the horizon and they want to enforce the status quo,” said Jeannine Grizzard. Her monologue, “An Anti-Suffrage Appeal,” is an historical monologue by Lady Randolph Churchill. Other historic characters explored in monologues are Rasputin in “The Chess Lesson” by John Richardson and John Wilkes Booth in “The Great Ape” by Warren Carlson.

John Yunker’s play “The Sales Rank Also Rises” reflects cultural change. He sees a world obsessed with numbers, “Changes in technology reflect changes in society, in which we measure everything — miles walked, calories burned, number of friends, likes, re-tweets. In a world in which everything is measured, how do we look beyond numbers to see what matters most?”

Ruth Wire’s “The Ferry of Relativity” tells a true story of a chance meeting with Albert Einstein on the Staten Island Ferry in 1951, and how that encounter influenced her family’s destiny. Among his many truisms, Einstein quips, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Julia Sommers’ play, “Brothers” investigates how differently siblings remember a common past. Sommers said, “My parents died leaving many unanswered questions and a fractured family.” The play explores, “how healing and change might come about even after death.” “Brothers” is still infused with humorous insight. As the character, Rose, looks into the casket of her dearest friend, she says, “She certainly kept her figure better than I did.”

One mission of the Ashland Contemporary Theater is, “The development of new, original drama by providing Rogue Valley playwrights with opportunities to have their work performed through regular dramatic readings and stage productions.”

The plays are directed by Will Churchill, Karen Douglas and Jeannine Grizzard, and supported by a strong cast including David Dials, Richard Heller, Bo Brazeau, Joe Charter, Will Churchill, Ruth Wire, Sam Younghans, Ian Jackson, Collene Pyke and Jeannine Grizzard.

The four performances start at 2 p.m. Friday, July 17, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way, Ashland; and at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19,  at the Ashland Community Center. (This paragraph has been changed to add the Sunday matinee.)

Tickets, $12, will be sold at the door and online at www.ashlandcontemporarytheatre.org.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

 

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