There's no staging, no costumes, no sets. Just five directors and 30 actors reading their hearts out. The works of five female playwrights, including Theresa Rebeck, who’s been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, will be read at Spring Street Studios over an 11-day period.
It's the inaugural play reading festival 4th Wall Reads Women’s Voices launched by the 4th Wall Theatre Company.
"We didn't have any female playwrights in our season and we thought, we love female playwrights, and we also realized as a company that can only do three or four productions a year how do we get more material out there? And doing a festival where you can have four or five plays affords us an opportunity to expose the Houston theater community to more work," says Kim Tobin-Lehl, co-founder with her husband Philip Lehl of 4th Wall Threatre Company.
"Our hope is people will come out and see these great plays and maybe somebody will pick up some of them and produce them."
"It's a good way to sort of gauge whether a play is right for us," Philip Lehl says, as well as a way to gauge an audience's reaction.
In one play, a man returns to his former home to present his wife with his new girlfriend and his wife decides some striking back is needed.
Another takes a new look at Medea and the breakup of her marriage. Three other plays have a common theme of survival at their core: Detroit workers facing the foreclosure of their plant, a classically trained actress doing Shakespeare in Las Vegas and a Polish immigrant in the United States who needs some financial security.
Talk-backs will follow each performance moderated by Dr. Rob Shimko, director of the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance or 4th Wall co-founder Kim Tobin-Lehl. Best of all, it’s free.
Here are the play summaries from 4th Wall:
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The Water's Edge by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Theresa Rebeck
With theatrical imagery and heightened emotions, this profound one act play leaves the impact of a grand Greek Tragedy. A father comes home after a 17 year absence with his new girlfriend in tow. His wife, displeased and scorned, decides to take matters into her own hands. But what happens when people believe that the only way to heal is to hurt?
Medea by Rachel Cusk
Directed by Trish Rigdon
Medea’s marriage is breaking up. And so is everything else. Testing the limits of revenge and liberty, Euripides’ seminal play cuts to the heart of gender politics and asks what it means to be a woman and a wife. One of world drama's most infamous characters is brought to controversial new life by award-winning writer Rachel Cusk.
Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau
Directed By Julia Traber
In Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit trilogy, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift, and they are pushed to the limits of survival. When the line between blue collar and white collar gets blurred, how far over the lines are they willing to step?
Shakespeare in Vegas by Suzanne Bradbeer
Directed by: Jennifer Dean
Margot is a talented but underappreciated actress desperate to escape the soul suck of the New York theater scene. So when a mysterious man offers her a whole season of Shakespeare, she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately the season is in Las Vegas and Vegas, it can’t surprise you to know, may not be the best place to get back your mojo…or, is it?
While on the surface Shakespeare in Vegas is a frothy romp about a classically trained actress trapped in the land of slot machines and showgirls, on a deeper level, it is a story about the power of art to inspire anyone – anywhere.
Ironbound by Martyna Majok
Directed by: Brandon Weinbrenner
“We are not having nice conversation.”
At a bus stop in a run-down New Jersey town, Darja, a Polish immigrant cleaning lady, is done talking about feelings; it’s time to talk money. Over the course of 20 years, three relationships, and three presidents, Darja negotiates for her future with men who can offer her love or security, but never both. Award-winning playwright Martyna Majok’s Ironbound is a darkly funny, heartbreaking portrait of a woman for whom love is a luxury–and a liability–as she fights to survive in America.
Here's the schedule:
Thursday, March 2, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m. – Shakespeare in Vegas by Suzanne Bradbeer
Friday, March 3, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.– Ironbound by Martyna Majok
Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 2:30 p.m.- Medea by Rachel Cusk
Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.– Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau
Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 10:00 p.m.–The Not Silent Majority - Poetry Slam/hosted by Luis Galindo
Sunday, March 5, 2017 @ 2:30 p.m.– Ironbound by Martyna Majok
Thursday, March 9, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.– The Water’s Edge/talk-back moderator: Theresa Rebeck
Friday, March 10, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.- Medea by Rachel Cusk
Saturday, March 11, 2017 @ 2:30 p.m.- Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau
Saturday, March 11, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.- The Water’s Edge
Sunday, March 12, 2017 @ 2:30 p.m.- Shakespeare in Vegas by Suzanne Bradbeer
Performances are scheduled for March 2-12 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays with a special Poetry Slam at 10 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street, For information call 832-786-1849 or visit 4thwalltheatreco.com. Free with reservations.