Thursday, September 26, 2013

Theatre Conspiracy showcases work from six local playwrights through Oct. 6

Theatre Conspiracy continues its deep commitment to local playwrights with six one-night-only staged readings beginning Sept 26 and running through Oct. 6.

Tickets for all shows are $5. Available online at or at the door.

Here's the schedule:

8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26: "The Kepler Complex," by John Repa
8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27: "The Pembridge Provocation," by Louise Wigglesworth
8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28: "The Inquisition," by Bob Hilliard
8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3: "A Letter from Miss Kitty," by Wally Kain
8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4: "The Boardroom," by Stephen Hooper
2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6" "By The Sea: Three One-Acts," by Fay Ellen Graetz

The staged readings consist of basic sets and props. Actors will read from scripts but move about the stage. Each show is given 4-5 rehearsals to prepare.

I broached the topic of "staged readings" in my review of "Birth," but I'd like to address it again here.

I'm not a fan of staged readings where actors move any more than the limited amount required for entrance/exit, page turning or emphasis. To me, a reading is just that - a reading. I've never seen a "move about the stage" reading surpass a reading that had actors sitting at lecterns, even for unpublished plays still in the workshop stage.

Actors, amateur or professional, can bring a work alive by voice, tone, inflection and their skills at creating a character. Asking them to read from a script while moving about the stage and interacting with other individuals doing the same is - in my view - unfair to the actor and to the audience. The audience never really concentrates on the words, but on the awkward, half-staged action. This is neither a reading nor a fully formed play.

I appreciate the tremendous effort that all our local playwrights put into their plays. Ditto for all the actors who volunteered their time over the past months and over the upcoming two weekends. I can't write a play, nor can I act. Still, the format chosen is - in my view - not the optimum way to present these works to audiences.

What are your thoughts? How should play readings be presented to audiences? Do you favor readings with some stage movement? Or lecterns, chairs and lights up on actors reading the script?

Email me,

Complete press release below:

Theatre Conspiracy is pleased to announce six one night staged readings of works by local playwrights starting on September 26.  Each work will be performed at the Foulds Theatre, Lee County Alliance for the Arts. Admission is only $5. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at

The six works have been developed through Theatre Conspiracy's playwrighting group “Playwright Conspiracy”. The six playwrights have met once a week for the past ten months developing their work. John Repa's play THE KEPLER COMPLEX will be performed on Thursday September 26 at 8PM. THE PEMBRIDGE PROVOCATION by Louise Wigglesworth will be on Friday September 27 at 8PM followed by Bob Hilliard's THE INQUISITION on Saturday September 28 at 8PM. The following weekend Wally Kain will have his play A LETTER FROM MISS KITTY on Thursday October 3 at 8PM with Stephen Hooper's THE BOARDROOM on Friday October 4 at 8PM. Closing out the staged readings will be Fay Ellen Graetz's 3 one act plays 3 BY THE SEA on Sunday October 6 at 2PM.

The staged readings consist of basic sets and props. The actors will read from scripts but move about the stage. Each show is given 4-5 rehearsals to prepare. This is a great opportunity to support not only new work BUT work by local playwrights.

The Kepler Complex by John Repa is, on its basic level, about the testing for The Right Stuff of the next generation of space explorers. But on a deeper level it examines the drives; intellectual, emotional, philosophical and religious that makes us what we are and defines what it is to be human.

3 By The Sea by Fay Ellen Graetz consists of three short plays.  In the first, a fisherman teaches his grandchild what to do when threatened by a water-spout at sea.  In the second, a Captain says farewell when his old sailing buddies must leave him behind.  The last takes place at a taverna on a Greek island.  A couple of tourists become suspicious of their new friend.

In Inquisition by Robert Hilliard Under the threat of international terrorism, the government has gradually eroded civil liberties, including surveillance of citizens' and journalists' communications and activities, and has intimidated freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. Three university professors, best friends, have been subpoenaed to testify in front of a government committee investigating alleged terrorist sympathizers in education. The professors and their spouses meet to discuss whether to cooperate with or defy the committee. Their disagreement reveals unspoken secrets and threatens their marriages and relationships.

In The Penbridge Provocation by Louise Wigglesworth things unfold with a simple but courageous question printed on some shirts, three targeted teens incite a school administrator to reassess policies and practices in today's educational system which actually support bully behaviors. Along the way love is lost and found, forgiveness earned and a hopeful future for the community of Penbridge takes shape.

The Boardroom by Stephen E. Hooper is a play about the inner workings of a man’s brain as he attempts to accomplish a very challenging assignment. The main character is Michael Casey, a talented but clearly flawed freelance writer. The other characters are people who represent distinct aspects of his personality and give voice to the thoughts that he entertains as he undertakes what turns out to be the most difficult writing task of his life.

In A Letter from Aunt Kitty by Wally Kain a refined, cultured and loving Aunt Kitty visits a greedy nephew and his dysfunctional family. They try to hurry her departure until they learn she is rich and the clutches of a smooth Ponzi scheme operator. Alas for them , it too late to get money that means very little to her.

John Repa's association with Theater Conspiracy goes back to Becoming Eleanor where he was half of Europe and The Imposters. His first work produced here was the Christmas comedy The Other Shepherds Play and his Shakespearean drama Epilogue at Elsinore won a New Play competition at the Naples Players in 2009. His drama Time Tables was read at last years play readings. John trained as a playwright and studied as a set designer and technician. he has a BA from Columbia College in Chicago. Currently he performs five nights a week on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train here in Fort Myers. He has also appeared at Florida Rep in Inherit the Wind and The Bad Seed.

Fay Ellen Graetz appreciates hearing a good story and began writing them in letters to family and friends while living abroad. Since returning to the States in 2000, she’s written a novel, short stories and plays.  Her fiction has received awards locally from the Florida Weekly and from Gulf Coast Writer’s Association.  In 2008, her two act play, “On the Hard,” was staged at the Purple Heart Theatre, Fort Myers Beach. A staged reading of her most recent two act play “Facing Up” was stage read at Theatre Conspiracy in 2012.  Her next play is percolating.  A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, she lives in Fort Myers.

Robert Hilliard appreciates Bill Taylor's encouragement and support of new plays, including through his Playwrights Group, the source of the current play presentations. This is Hilliard's eighth full-length play. He is also the author of 40 books.

Louise Wigglesworth plays include NO BAD DANCE which was presented in a staged reading at Theatre Conspiracy, Fort Myers, in 2012, as part of its annual celebration of new plays.
Her adaptation of Albert Camus’ novel,  THE PLAGUE, was produced at The Laboratory Theater of Florida in 2011.   IN THE SHADE OF OLD TREES, another full length, is  scheduled for a staged reading at The Laboratory Theater of Florida in 2014. A workshop production of  ATLANTIC CITY LIGHTS, a themed one act collection produced at Richard Stockton College, was made possible in part by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and later appeared at Cultural Park Theatre, re-titled  DRAWING THE HUMAN FORM.

Stephen E. Hooper has been performing in and directing and producing plays throughout Southwest Florida for nearly 30 years. Favorite roles include Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players), Martin in Social Security (Florida Rep), and Mittler in Dispatches From Hell (his first of many roles with Theatre Conspiracy). Favorite directing turns include Three Days of Rain, Barrymore, A Tuna Christmas, and most recently Intimate Exchanges, all for Theatre Conspiracy. This is Steve's second year as a participant in Bill Taylor's "Playwright Conspiracy." His first play staged last year was "An Act of God."

Wally Kain was born in Nebraska and grew up in Yonkers, New York. He got degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School with a Korean era break with the 82nd Airborne Division. Wally’s first career was in the world of patents, copyrights and trade secrets. He was drawn from this to paint and write on Sanibel Island. Writing for island newspapers led to elective office and two terms as mayor of Sanibel. He has two published novels, The Nunca Riddle and The Red Column. A Fly in the Butter, true stories about growing up in the 1930s and 40s, was published in 2012.  His plays Homecoming for Sergeant Porter and The Gray and the Blue were finalists in the Naples Players New Play Contests for 2008 and 2012.

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