Stuart Howard directs the reading, which mixes working professionals Opal Alladin, Roderick Hill, Stephen Kunken and Anne Louise Zachry and students of The Juilliard School Drama Division, where Howard is an instructor in audition techniques.
The small-cast play about people facing addiction, is written for five performers — four leads and one utility man to cover multiple parts. In the reading, however, Julliard students will get to bite into those support roles, giving them hands-on experience with a process that will be a large part of their futures: developmental readings.
Laurents, of course, is the Tony Award-winning 87-year-old playwright, librettist, screenwriter and director known for Home of the Brave, The Time of the Cuckoo, Gypsy, Hallelujah, Baby!, West Side Story, "The Turning Point" and "The Way We Were." His memoir, "Original Story By," was published in 2000.
Closing Bell was recently published in the Back Stage Books volume, "Selected Plays of Arthur Laurents."
"Closing Bell is unlike any play I've written," Laurents writes in introductory notes in "Selected Plays." "The characters are funnier, sadder and younger, all whirling and in danger of spinning out into permanent orbit. Whether they would or not didn't seem up to me." About the writing of the play, he wrote, "The characters arrived like guests at a party and introduced themselves. As they talked, they came clearer and more complex and took charge. I followed — with no idea where I was heading until the play was well along and even then, up to the very last scene, I never knew what the next scene would be. I only knew there were going to be 12 scenes because the characters were dealing with alcoholism and sex and drug addiction, which meant a 12-step program had to be lurking."
What is the world of Closing Bell?
"The careening characters live in a world of a careening stock market, overnight millionaires under 30, the Hamptons and art dealers, but it all coalesces into a love story," Laurents wrote. "That surprised me."
The play has not yet been produced. His 2 Lives, meanwhile, gets a staging at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ. Performances begin Oct. 18. It is the second production of the work, and has been revised slightly since its Boston world premiere.
2 Lives is also published in 2004's "Selected Plays," along with Closing Bell, Home of the Brave, Jolson Sings Again, My Good Name, Attacks on the Heart and The Enclave.