Playwright Romulus Linney (2, A Lesson Before Dying, Gint) will narrate John Updike's prequel to Hamlet, "Gertrude and Claudius," May 8, kicking off the 2000 Play Group spring-summer reading series.
In "Gertrude and Claudius," Updike, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, chronicles the passionate romance between Queen Gertrude and King Claudius, which would result in a certain Danish prince's quest for revenge at the behest of his father.
Regina Taylor's Oo-Bla-Dee, the 1999 American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award winner, will be read May 15 in a production directed by Israel Hicks. The story of a group of African American female jazz musicians in 1946, Oo-Bla-Dee had stagings at The Goodman Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse in 1999. Taylor, an actress best known for "I'll Fly Away" and Jar the Floor, has been produced at the Humana Festival and the Alliance Theatre Company.
Uncle Vanya's Laura Linney and Amadeus' Michael Sheen will read Rodney Ackland's Smithereens, a 1934 comedy about a young woman trying to escape her South Kensington family in search of a Bohemian life. Ackland is the author of Dark River, Before the Party and Absolute Hell, revived in 1995 with Dame Judi Dench.
The 1999 London hit, The Colour of Justice by Richard Norton Taylor, is based on six-months of public inquiry transcripts about the London murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager, which revealed much racism and corruption in the English police force. Nicolas Kent, the artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre, original stagers of the work, directs the June 19 reading. Admission to all readings is free. The Second Stage Theatre is located at 307 West 43rd Street. For reservations and information, call (212) 780 2193.
-- By Christine Ehren