WINTER PLAY READING FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 16 – FEBRUARY 25
Friday & Saturday Evenings 7:30pm
Sunday Matinees 2:00pm

 
 
This year’s festival features plays from Sarah Ruhl, C.P. Taylor, David Ives, Jen Silverman, a Midwest premiere by Bill Cain and from Wisconsin playwright Marie Kohler who will be attending.  
 
The readings will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and on Sundays at 2pm.  Admission is by a pay-what-you-can donation.  
 
An audience discussion of the play with cast and director will follow each reading. 
 
Marie Kohler will be present for the reading of her play, THE DIG, on February 24th  and will participate in the post-reading discussion.  Noted Wisconsin actor Brian Mani will be a featured performer in THE DIG. 
 
FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Friday, February 16 @ 7:30
DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Amy Ensign
CAST:
Mark Moede, Pam Welter, Mary White, Alan Kopischke, 
Teresa Aportela Sergott
 
While finishing her lobster bisque, mild mannered and often over-looked Jean discovers her voice as she adopts the cell phone of a gentleman who passes away at the table next to her in the otherwise empty cafe. Jean begins answering his calls, relaying the sad news and even stepping in to help at the deceased man’s place of work. She soon gets more than she bargained for as she mends relationships, falls in love, travels to Johannesburg, South Africa, and spends a few minutes with Gordon in the after-life.
 
SARAH RUHL, originally from Chicago, received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. An alum of 13P and of New Dramatists, she won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006 and most recently, the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.  Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum by Lincoln Center Theater, Off-Broadway at Playwrights’ Horizons, Second Stage, and at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country, with premieres often at Yale Repertory Theater, the Goodman Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater,  and the Piven Theatre Workshop in Chicago. proudly served on the executive council of the Dramatist’s Guild for three years, and she is currently on the faculty at Yale School of Drama.  She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
 
Saturday, February 17 @ 7:30
AND A NIGHTINGALE SANG by C.P. Taylor
Directed by Robert Boles
CAST:
Amy Ensign, Mark Moede, Mary White, 
LakerAnne Thrasher, Brandon Bogenschutz,
James Valcq, Kole Mallien
 
The play follows the course of World War II as experienced by a working-class family in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.  In wartime there are no public worries, only private worries, and this story of the family’s personal relationships, preoccupations, troubles and joys suggests, perhaps, the reason why with all the perils and troubles besieging it the human race will continue to survive.
 
CECIL PHILIP TAYLOR (1929-81) was a Glasgow-born playwright who wrote just under eighty plays during his sixteen years as a professional playwright. His plays largely drew on his Jewish background and socialist viewpoint.  
Taylor worked throughout his career with both the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and the Live Theatre Company, Newcastle.
 
Sunday, February 18 @ 2:00
VENUS IN FUR by David Ives
Directed by Alan Kopischke
CAST:
Neil Brookshire, LakerAnne Thrasher
 
A mysterious, funny and erotic drama. Thomas is desperate to find an actress to play Vanda in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale, “Venus in Fur.” Into his empty audition room walks a vulgar and equally desperate actress-oddly enough, named Vanda. Though utterly wrong for the sophisticated part, Vanda exhibits a strange command of the material, piquing Thomas’ interest. They blur the line between play and reality, entering into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination.  
 
DAVID IVES is best known for his evening of one-act plays, “All in the Timing” and for his drama “Venus in Fur,” which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. He adapted Mark Twain’s “Is He Dead,” which was also produced on Broadway, and locally at Peninsula Players and Gibraltar High School, and has written a varied array of full length plays, one-act collections and adaptations of classics.  A former Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting and a graduate of The Yale School of Drama, he lives in New York City.
 
Friday, February 23 @ 7:30 
HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE
By Bill Cain
Directed by Robert Boles
CAST:
Claire Morkin, Neil Brookshire, Alan Kopischke,
Mark Moede
 
Midwestern Premiere.  Writers are told to write what they know. But as Bill Cain discovers in writing about his own family, sometimes those we are closest to are the biggest mysteries of all.  This beautiful new play is taken from Cain’s own experiences caring for his dying mother. He asks the questions that speak to the heart of every family: What will never change…and what has to?  Cain brings a fascinating view to this simple, powerful illustration of why the details of our lives and loves matter.
 
BILL CAIN’s last two plays, Equivocation and 9 Circles, both received the American Theater Critics, Association/ Steinberg Award, the first time ever that an author received the award in consecutive years.  Bill’s work for television (including the ABC TV series Nothing Sacred) has been honored with the George Foster Peabody, Humanitas, and Writers, Guild Awards. He dedicates this play to his parents, Pete and Mary Cain, and his brother, Paul Cain.
 
Saturday, February 24 @ 7:30
THE DIG by Marie Kohler
Directed by Alexander Coddington
CAST:
Karen Estrada, Brian Mani, Neil Brookshire,  Ericka Wade, John Taylor Phillips
 
Growing up, Mattie’s brilliant older brother Jamie told her tales of ancient myths and the stars in the sky.  But as a young archaeologist in a turbulent 1968 Lebanon, he has a break with reality that changed both their lives forever.   It’s 30 years later, and an official investigation questioning the legitimacy of Jamie’s dig long ago forces Mattie to confront a family past shrouded in mystery as she reconciles her memories of the beloved brother of her youth and the challenging cipher he has become.  
 
The Dig is a time-bending, lyrical exploration of the complex bonds between siblings and the stories we pass on to those we love.
 
MARIE KOHLER, Director, writer, actor, dramaturg and award-winning playwright, is a long-time member of the professional Milwaukee theater
community. Resident Playwright and co-founder
of Renaissance Theaterworks, Marie served as its Co-Artistic Director from 1993 to 2012.  
 
Raised in Wisconsin, Kohler holds a BA from Harvard University and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her curiosity and passion for the written word as well as her enduring love of theater and nature inspire her work.

Playwright MARIE KOHLER  will be participating in the post-reading discussion.

Sunday, February 25 @ 2:00
THE ROOMMATE by Jen Silverman
Directed by John Wilson
CAST:
Amy Ensign, Mary White
 
Sharon is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely. The Roommate is dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.  THE ROOMMATE receives its Chicago premiere this summer at the Steppenwolf Theatre. 
 
JEN SILVERMAN is a New York-based writer. Born in the U.S., she was raised across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Her theatre work includes THE MOORS (Yale Repertory Theatre premiere, off-Broadway with The Playwrights Realm, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist); THE ROOMMATE (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville Humana world premiere, multiple regional productions including South Coast Rep, SF Playhouse and Williamstown Theatre Festival, upcoming at Steppenwolf); PHOEBE IN WINTER (Off-off Broadway with Clubbed Thumb); COLLECTIVE RAGE: A PLAY IN 5 BETTIES (Woolly Mammoth premiere); and ALL THE ROADS HOME, a play with songs (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park premiere).