No playwright works in a vacuum. Nearly every dramatist is influenced both by predecessors and by being part of the zeitgeist of his or her contemporaries. As such, a new series sponsored by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and New Dramatists will offer notable playwrights hosting and "curating" readings by other notable playwrights. They, in turn, will read from their own works as well as plays by writers who influenced them.
The Playwright's Voice reading series begins Feb. 8, when Ellen McLaughlin (Tongue of a Bird) hosts an evening with Constance Congdon, Elizabeth Egloff, Tony Kushner and Mac Wellman. According to spokesperson Beth Stevens, the readings will center on "Neglected Work/Beloved Monsters," that is, plays that were "overlooked and critically denounced." Ping Chong, Jessica Hagedorn and Sung Rno are the guests Feb. 15, with David Henry Hwang (Golden Child) curating an evening titled, "Legacies: Asian-American Drama."
On Feb. 22, Jack Gelber, Romulus Linney and Megan Terry will share their "Uncommon Visions," with Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss) hosting. Closing the series on Leap Day, Feb. 29, will be Luis Alfaro, Migdalia Cruz and Caridad Svich, taking part in "Celebrating Contemporary Latina/o Playwrights." (The idea sprang from TCG's recent anthology of Latino playwriting, "Out of the Fringe." )
TCG is best known for publishing American Theatre magazine and publishing numerous books on play productions and theatres around the country. New Dramatists, founded in 1949, offers a haven for playwrights to develop their craft via workshops, staged readings, awards and prizes. New Dramatists membership lasts for a seven-year span, with alumni including Robert Anderson, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Richard Foreman, William Inge, Donald Margulies, Terrence McNally, Suzan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley, Mac Wellman and many more.
For tickets ($5) and information on The Playwright's Voice series as New Dramatists, 424 West 44th St., call (212) 757-6960. *
In a separate series, New Dramatists is also continuing various free-of charge play readings, with the next few listed below:
Feb. 10: Rules of Charity by John Belluso, directed by David Herskovitz, tells of a father-daughter conflict.
Feb. 11: Alice: Tales of a Curious Girl by Karen Hartman, directed by Jonathan Moscone with music by Gina Leishman. Lewis Carroll's novellas are the springboard for this trip into Wonderland.
Feb. 18: Rock & Roy: A Musical Biography of Rock Hudson by Barry Jay Kaplan with music by Stephen Weinstock. Simon Callow directs.
Feb. 28: Love Minus, a romantic comedy by Mary Gallagher.
-- By David Lefkowitz