You be the judge. Your opinion matters as the Hub Theatre’s series of staged readings of new plays continues at the Greater Reston Arts Center.
Next up for the professional, nonprofit Hub Theatre is the satiric “The Dental Society Midwinter Meeting,” from emerging playwright Laura Jacqmin. It is a comic look as indignities batter a fictional dental society debating the future.
“This play will speak to fans of Woody Allen, Wes Anderson movies and ‘Arrested Development.’” said Matt Bassett, the director of the evening’s event. “It’s a comedy that is willing to look at some bad people to find the good in them.”
What is a stage reading? Simply put, it is a script-in-hand performance by actors creating the playwright’s characters, but without costumes, sets, lighting or sound. It is a way to give voice to the written script before a live audience. A staged reading is performed to obtain reactions from theater aficionados to help answer the question: Should the show get a full production?
“We have been producing the HUB’s Staged Reading Series since 2008 in partnership with the Greater Reston Arts Center ... a wonderful way to introduce plays or playwrights to our community.” said Helen Pafumi, Hub’s artistic director.
The “Dental Society Midwinter Meeting” was selected for the staged reading to obtain candid views of an audience for possible full production. “I knew this was a play that we needed to hear out loud both because of its humor and its humanity. So now I want to hear the reaction of our community and company of artists.” Pafumi said.
Bassett said he “was immediately struck by the sharp wit of Jacqmin’s writing. Her wordplay is musical through much of the piece, which makes for precisely crafted jokes that take the audience by surprise. It’s smart, funny and precise, with a genuine heart inside each character that gives an insight into the human condition.”
Jacqmin is a Chicago-based playwright and winner of the 2008 Wasserman Prize, given to an emerging female playwright. The Wasserstein Prize was established in memory of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006.
Directing a staged reading can be “a challenge” according to Bassett. “We have to tell a full and compelling story with only voices and facial expressions — any movement is very limited. The actors have no lights, sets or props to help them engage the audience”s imagination or their own. There’s a freedom within that challenge to focus on timing, rhythm and sound to create whole worlds in front of an audience."
Describing the partnership with the Greater Reston Arts Center, Pafumi said, “We do our best to be collaborative in how we use the space and how we slate the reading lineup. Many times the artwork is so in sync with the play, that it acts as a set, or highlights the themes. There have been readings where it felt like we chose the play because of the art or vice versa.”
“The staged reading evenings are immensely fun. You come to the Greater Reston Arts Center, grab a glass of wine, see the exhibit, then sit down to watch a play reading. It’s always dynamic and interesting,” Pafumi said.