In a remarkable endeavor, the Alley Theatre is launching The Alley All New Festival — free to audience members — that will present new works through readings and workshops from six playwrights with the help of 25 actors from all over and artistic directors from New York and Chicago, in addition to Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd. This is a chance for the public to gain firsthand knowledge of the development process that plays go through — and even better – be among the first people to see these plays and a musical.
In Roz and Ray, one of the plays that will be shown at the festival, playwright Karen Hartman tells an unusual romantic story about Ray, the father of twin hemophiliac boys and Roz, a who seems to have all the answers, holding out hope for not just the boys but Ray himself. “I think of it as a very complicated unconventional love story in the midst of a very brutal and difficult time,” Hartman says. The daughter of a hematologist/oncologist in San Diego, Hartman says she had wanted to tell this story for some time. “I had the idea for about ten years before I had the guts to write it. It's a medical morality story that's never been told in this exact way. I feel a lot of sympathy on both sides. These two characters are really good and very imperfect people and they go through a lot together.”
While people may hope for medical miracles and want to believe in their doctors and the scientists who are developing new medicines, Hartman says there are often take-backs when break-through discoveries have unintended side effects. “These two characters are not the villains. The doctor is a healer offering this miracle cure. Those positions shift and change over the 15 years; the characters are bound to each other.”
Hartman says the festival will give her a chance to see what is and isn’t working in her play and to perhaps make changes during the rehearsal week between the first and second weekend performances. Despite the subject matter, which she doesn’t want to go into in depth, she urges audiences to attend. “I just think it's going to break your heart open in the right way. And you shouldn't be scared of it,” Hartman says. “It's hard but life is hard I think these characters go to a very deep and intimate place and I find a lot of beauty and some comfort in that. And it’s only 90 minutes and no intermission so c’mon.”
Performances of Roz and Ray are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 28; 8 p.m. Saturday, January 30; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 31; 3 p.m. Saturday, February 6 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday February 7. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For reservations and more information on this and other plays in the festival visit alleytheatre.org or call 713-220-5700. Free.
By Boo Killebrew
Workshop performances January 2=9, 30 and 31; February 4and 6
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The Harassment of Iris Malloy
By Zak Berkman
Reading February 7
By NSangou Njikam
Workshop performances January 30, February 4, 5 and 7
Songs From Mrs. Mannerly, a Musical in Progress
Music by Michael Moricz, lyrics by Jack Murphy
Readings February 5, 7
By Lawrence Wright
Reading February 6