Five plays and 13 actors will be featured in a May 7 marathon reading of selections from the recently released anthology, "Plays and Playwrights for 2001." The volume, the second yearly edition of its kind, came out in March, courtesy of Martin Denton, creator, editor and theatre critic of the New York Theatre Experience website. Denton published "Plays and Playwrights for the New Millennium," the first anthology in this proposed series, in 2000.
The May 7 reading will take place 7 PM- 9:30 PM at Jean Cocteau Repertory, 330 Bowery (corner of Bond Street). Five plays will be read, including Word to Your Mama by Julia Lee Barclay; The Language of Kisses by Edmund De Santis; Velvet Ropes by Joshua Scher; Cuban Operator Please... by Adrian Rodriguez; and Straight Jacket by Richard Day.
Among the actors to be featured in the evening are Jackie Hoffman, currently starring in the Drama Dept.'s hit The Book of Liz; Carrie Preston, a Broadway and Off-Broadway veteran who will soon begin previews of John Guare's Chaucer in Rome; Royden Mills and Jonathan Uffelman, currently appearing in The Acting Company's O Pioneers! and The Comedy of Errors; as well as Jose Antonio, Patrick Burchill, Chris Campbell, Stevie Ray Dallimore, Donna Davis, Omar Hernandez, Nicole Higgins, Monica Sirignano and Mercy Valladares.
A symposium moderated by Denton will follow the readings. *
This new volume includes the following titles, most of which were seen Off-Off-Broadway during the 1999-2000 season: Washington Square Dreams by Gorilla Repertory Theatre
Fate by Elizabeth Horsburgh
Velvet Ropes by Joshua Scher
The Language of Kisses by Edmund De Santis
Word to Your Mama by Julia Lee Barclay
Cuban Operator Please by Adrian Rodriguez
The Elephant Man—The Musical by Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko
House of Trash by Trav S.D.
Straight-Jacket by Richard Day
De Santis' Making Peter Pope was seen in the 2000 anthology. Otherwise, the other authors are making their debut in the NYTE series.
The "Plays and Playwrights" series was born of critic Denton's wish to save some of the worthier Off-Off-Broadway plays he was reviewing from obscurity and artistic death. Keeping a mental tally of the productions he had especially admired, he later asked the playwrights for permission to publish them in a volume (the writers were paid in free copies of the resulting book). Readings of selected plays at Drama Book Shop, Applause Books, Barnes and Noble and other stores, helped to garner interest in the title, which eventually returned its investment, paving the way for a follow-up collection. Denton hopes to make "Plays and Playwrights" an annual event.
Denton hopes that the publication of the volume will result in further productions of the selected plays. The formula has worked: two of the plays featured in the 2000 edition received new mountings. Plays and Playwrights 2001 is a trade paperback, 319 pages, and has a suggested retail price of $15.00.
—By Robert Simonson