Affordability takes the stage

Jean Ellen Gismervik

If you are like many college students torn between their passion for theatre and a lack of funds, you will be pleased to know that you no longer have to compromise either your theatrical urge or meager allowance because the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s STAGES program reconciles the two.

STAGES is a series of new play readings that kicked off last Monday with “Father Joy,” written by Sheri Wilner, and will continue through mid-November. Readings are free and are followed by an informal reception sponsored by Yards Brewing Company.

“We are ecstatic to be able to offer an artistic home to some of this country’s most important playwrights,” says STAGES curator and PTC dramaturg Michelle Volansky. “Our STAGES program is re-affirming our commitment to supporting new plays by American playwrights, while inviting our audience to experience plays in their earliest forms.”

Tom Donaghy takes on the idea of change in his as-yet-untitled piece that will be the next to debut with STAGES on Monday. In this latest work, main characters May and Philip, new homeowners, are in the process of renovations. They hope the house will become a refuge for them, May’s daughter Ruby and their friend Timothy. But when the contractor working on the project expresses concerns about their plans, May and Philip begin to question change and the extent to which it is even possible.

“A Small, Melodramatic Story” by Stephen Belber focuses on a woman named O who traces the ambiguous line between city and suburb, white and black, truth and denial and “the big one:” life and death. As O gets caught up in the intrigue of Keith, her dead husband’s best friend (and National Security archivist); Perry, a D.C. cop; and Cleo, a kid who used to work in a gas station, she uncovers more than answers to her relentless questions about life and love.

The series will conclude with “A Picasso” by Jeffrey Hatcher. The play takes place at the height of the German occupation of France when Pablo Picasso is brought into Gestapo headquarters in Paris for an interrogation by a mysterious woman named Miss Fischer. Miss Fischer wants Picasso to authenticate three paintings, each assumed to be “a Picasso.” Ultimately, it is a cat-and-mouse mystery about art, sex, death and the lure of power.

All readings take place at Plays & Players Theater located at 1714 Delancey St. Admission is free, although reservations are recommended by calling the PTC Reservation Hotline at (215) 985-1400, ext. 110. For further information regarding STAGES or other PTC productions you can visit the website at: