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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Winter Play Reading Festival returning to Sturgeon Bay

Critic At Large

Third Avenue Playhouse

Playwrights whose work is in festival.


Third Avenue Playhouse will present its fifth annual Winter Play Reading Festival in the playhouse Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

Actors in the readings have been associated with playhouse productions overseen by co-artistic directors Robert Boles and James Valcq.

According to a press release:

The goal of the festival is to explore playwrights and plays not normally seen in Door County. Each reading is followed by a talk-back with the director and actors.

Admission is pay-what-you-can. 

+ “Marjorie Prime,” by Jordan Harrison, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31.

Produced in coordination with Door County Reads
Cast:  Dee Hopper, Alan Kopischke, Alex Sabin, Claire Morkin.

It’s the age of artificial intelligence, and 85-year-old Marjorie – a jumble of disparate, fading memories – has a handsome new companion who’s programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? Jordan Harrison explores the mysteries of human identity and the limits – if any – of what technology can replace.

Jordan Harrison was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for “Marjorie Prime.” The play had its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons and its Chicago premiere at Writers Theatre after premiering at the Mark Taper Forum/CTG in Los Angeles. Harrison’s play “Maple and Vine” premiered in the 2011 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville and went on to productions at American Conservatory Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, among others. Harrison’s other plays include “The Grown-Up” (2014 Humana Festival), “Doris to Darlene” (Playwrights Horizons), “Amazons and their Men” (Clubbed Thumb), “Act a Lady” (2006 Humana Festival), “Finn in the Underworld” (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), “Futura” (Portland Center Stage, NAATCO), “Kid-Simple” (2004 Humana Festival), “Standing on Ceremony” (Minetta Lane) and “The Museum Play” (Washington Ensemble Theatre) and a musical, “Suprema” (O’Neill Music Theatre Conference). Harrison writes for the Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.”

+ “Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune,” by Terrance Mcnally, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1.

Cast:  Mark Moede, Mary White.

In a walk-up apartment on Manhattan’s West Side, Frankie and Johnny have just had their first encounter, after having met several weeks ago on the job. Frankie (a waitress) has had more disappointments than delights in life. Johnny (a short-order cook) is the veteran of one broken marriage already. Neither is in the bloom of youth. Yet out of their sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious interplay the promise of a relationship beyond a “one-night stand” does begin to emerge.

Terrence McNally is the winner of Tony Awards for his plays “Love! Valour! Compassion!”
and “Master Class” and his books for the musicals “Ragtime” and “Kiss of the Spiderwoman.” In 2010, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented the three-play “Terrence McNally’s Nights at the Opera.” McNally’s other plays include “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” “Corpus Christi,” “A Perfect Ganesh,” “The Ritz,” “It’s Only a Play,” “Some Men,” “Golden Age,” “Deuce,” “The Lisbon Traviata,” “Bad Habits,” “The Stendhal Syndrome,” “Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams,” “Next,” “Unusual Acts of Devotion,” “Sweet Eros,” “Witness,” Where has Tommy Flowers Gone” and “And Things That Go Bump in the Night.” McNally has written the books for the musicals “The Full Monty,” “A Man of No Importance,” “The Visit” and “The Rink.” He won an Emmy Award for Best Drama with his teleplay “Andre’s Mother.”

+ “Heroes,” by Gérald Sibleyras, translation by Tom Stoppard, 2 p.m. Feb. 2.
Cast:  Ray Jivoff, Noah Simon, Ross Dipple

Gustave, Philippe and Henri – war heroes, all – are plotting an escape. They’ve had enough of the tortures of their confinement: dictatorial captors, untrustworthy fellow prisoners, and far too many birthday parties. Indeed, life in a retired soldiers’ home is almost unbearable! So, while keeping each other company on the back patio, they hatch a plan to escape to Indochina, or at least to a picnic under the poplars on a nearby hill. Winner of London’s prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of this French play is bawdy and comical.

Gérald Sibleyras was born in 1961 in Paris. His latest play is “Le Banc.” Sibleyras’ most notable work is the 2003 “Le Vent des Peupliers,” which has been translated and produced in countries worldwide including the United Kingdom, Germany, Uruguay and the United States. Tom Stoppard translated the play into English as “Heroes,” which received its London debut at the Wyndham Theater and won the 2006 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Gérald Sibleyras adapted William Nicholson’s “The Retreat from Moscow (La Retraite de Russie),” Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” and Mike Leigh’s “Abigail’s Party. Sibleyras is currently adapting his play “La Danse de L’Albatros” for the screen.

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