Recommended by John Patrick Bray

  • Home-Style Cooking at the Gateway Cafe
    14 Jun. 2021
    Philip Middleton Williams once again demonstrates that he has a gift for poetic naturalism and an ear for the way folks in small towns talk and live their lives. There’s community. There’s work that needs to be done. And there’s the agreeing as a group to “yes-and” each other’s stories to demonstrate a unified front in the face of a weasel of an authority figure. This play has a couple of truly unexpected turns which gives the place and the people who live, work, and eat there a textured richness that is both magic and believable.
  • Let Maisy Rest in Peace
    14 Jun. 2021
    Margo Hammond demonstrates a gift for writing complex characters leading deceptively simple lives. It’s clear that Hammond loves her characters - because the reader ends up loving them, too; they read like real people leading nuanced lives. The conflict is deceptively simple; yet we understand Walter’s desire to fulfill his late wife’s wishes, just as we understand the concerns of the town. This is a lovely play that I hope to see staged!
  • RAW
    14 Jun. 2021
    My best friend’s family owns an apple orchard - pick your own. The younger generation finally convinced the older to let them start a cider distillery. It worked. The orchard is saved. I read the first ten pages of this play smug in my own experience. But that’s not what this story is about. It is about so much more than pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. It’s about more than a family farm and whose name is on the deed. I am blown away by this play, like one of Caroline’s casualties. Humorous, engaging, and visceral!
  • Trade With Klan: A Play about Choices
    14 Jun. 2021
    I had the pleasure of seeing a reading of this play during Friday Night Footlights - Myrtle Beach years ago. Baker’s play is a haunting reminder that the past has not gone anywhere, and the racism that infected our communities then continue to infect our communities now. There are no easy answers, but perhaps by confronting out past we can begin to imagine and work toward a better future.
  • Helvetica
    28 May. 2021
    Simply stated, Helvetica is one of the most beautiful and nourishing plays I've ever read. When I ran the Rose of Athens No Shame Playreading Series, I was thrilled to be able to host this piece. It is one that I come back to often. My hope is every theatre lover in the US will have the opportunity to experience the world of Helvetica, as described by her faithful friend Myron (a role I would love to play if I ever decide to perform again). It's gorgeous!
  • Sweet Revenge
    24 May. 2021
    I worked as a bagel baker for over six years in upstate, New York. Zaffarano's characters feel like people I knew - in particular, there was someone who worked in the front who was very much in touch with her 1960s/Woodstock sensibilities - she would blast music smoke weed. It was a hoot! This is a long way of saying that reading Sweet Revenge felt like visiting with old friends. The stakes are incredibly high for this independent shop (true for all independent shops), and the characters are nuanced, richly textured people we root for along the way.
  • Mind Control (ZOOM/LGBTQ VERSION)
    18 May. 2021
    This is a very funny, sexy play that investigates the question "is it cheating if we just think about it?" I love that the characters explore sense memory for simple pleasures like donuts, cigarettes, and then...I don't want to spoil the ending! A solid piece for three female-identifying actors that have a gift for comedic timing and delivery.
  • Appetizers, or "On an Island Somewhere"
    14 May. 2021
    I had the pleasure of watching The Greenhouse Ensemble's Zoom production of this piece. This play is a telling and heartbreaking look at conversion therapy, featuring Sickles's blend of warmth and wit, reminding us that the political is always personal, and the personal is always political (shout it from the rooftops!). I should also mention that the production itself was wonderful! The Greenhouse Ensemble is a great troupe!
  • Study Group Hooray (A Pandemic Zoom Horror)
    4 May. 2021
    I had the pleasure of seeing this play as a Zoom production and I found it beguiling; it begins as a kind of Kevin Smith-esque relationship comedy and takes a turn towards Black Mirror territory. I appreciate the ending, which offers another twist. Richards uses the Zoom platform masterfully. He is a writer to keep an eye on. I recommend this play to college drama clubs and college-aged theatre troupes that wish to produce a piece written exclusively for Zoom theatre (would be great for Halloween!).
  • At The Crossroads
    17 Apr. 2021
    At the Croosroads is a haunting look at two generations torn apart by two World Wars. There are two excellent roles for women - Lady Gerald and Dora, who are paying the price for the "Lost Generation." Dora's recollection of her younger self is tender without being over-sentimental. Lady Gerald's dismissal of President Roosevelt and his notion of the four freedoms (Freedom of speech; Freedom of worship; Freedom from want; Freedom from fear) is palpable. Alice Josephs demonstrates an excellent command of dialogue, grounding the play in a dream-like realism reminiscent of Tennessee William's call for a "plastic theatre."

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