Pioneer Theatre Company opens their Play-by-Play reading series this weekend. Though these readings are often stripped down to no design elements, the Play-by-Play provides a unique opportunity for audiences to experience new work as it is developed.
Typically in theater, workshops are the go-to when connecting a playwright with a director. Through conversations with actors, the playwright may then be given the opportunity to advance their work. These staged readings work within that field, acting as a showcase, where the audience can view a work in progress at a point where the cast and director have worked to bring voices to each piece.
Pioneer Theatre Company’s Play-by-Play reading series began four years ago. Since that first year, three plays are selected each season to be worked on with staged readings illuminating the process throughout the year. Some of these plays go on to be realized in full PTC productions, like “Alabama Story” and “Two Dollar Bill” in years past–audiences for the staged readings are thus privy to first peeks of these stories.
For the first selection in this series, PTC turned to playwright Elyzabeth Wilder and her piece “A Requiem for August Moon.” The story centers around Simon, a Ph.D. candidate whose work connects music and mathematical algorithms. Though Simon has created a way to predict a hit song, he is instead more fascinated by finding a mathematically perfect song. When a box of tapes is discovered through eccentric character Charlie, Simon unearths the work of August Moon, a former Indie Rock icon. As Simon continues his search for this mathematically perfect song, Charlie begins to question if math can create such a thing; after all, Charlie argues, art is organic. Exploring the boundaries between art and science, “A Requiem for August Moon” highlights how we achieve success, deal with failure and how we relate to the people we love.
Wilder, the playwright of this piece, already has an extensive playwriting career behind her, with plays produced at the Royal Court in London, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Hartford Stage and the Denver Center. Most recently, Wilder was the Tennessee Williams Playwright-in-Residence at Sewanee: The University of the South. She has also received the Osborn Award, an honor designated by the American Theatre Critics Association.
Julie Kramer, the director for this Play-by-Play, has been involved with Play-by-Play for a few seasons, working on “True Art” in 2014 and “Slow Food” in 2015. She also directed “Outside Mullingar” at PTC last season. Her experience extends as well to The Public Theatre, New Dramatists, Juilliard and The New York Musical Festival.
The cast includes a few Pioneer alums in Joe Tapper and Howard Kaye, as well as Anne Louise Brings, a graduate from Westminster College, and Ashley Marian Ramos, a junior in the Actor Training Program at the U.
“A Requiem for August Moon” plays this weekend only, on November 11th and 12th at the Dumke Auditorium at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets for this reading and the two upcoming Play-by-Play staged readings are available either in person at Pioneer Theatre, or online at their website, www.pioneertheatrecompany.org. Tickets are $10 for each show or $25 for admission to all three.