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The Shakespeare Theatre announces its 2014 script-in-hand series

Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison, home of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s 2014 script-reading series
Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison, home of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s 2014 script-reading series
Photo courtesy of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Ever wish you were a fly on the wall at a major arts institution? A March 27 press release by Press Manager Rick Engler of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, in Madison (Morris Township), announces its schedule of script readings as part of the 2014 theatrical season. The Lend Us Your Ears Reading Series allows audience members, actors, directors, and artistic staff to explore plays that may in future seasons become fully-staged works. By attending, audience members get in on the proverbial ground floor of the creative process.

What happens at a script reading? Plainclothes actors perform the scripts in a more intimate setting than a fully outfitted stage. Afterwards audience members provide feedback and listen to the cast and director discuss “the play’s potential for future production,” according to the press statement. Here are the three plays scheduled for reading:

“Not About Heroes” by Stephen MacDonald and directed by Stephen Brown-Fried starts the 2014 season. World War I broke out a hundred years ago, so this is a meaningful and apt time to explore the friendship of Siegfried Sassoon, war hero and aristocrat, determined to expose the false ideals used to justify war, and the poet, Wilfred Owen, recovering from the effects of shell-shock, and desperately seeking a hero and understanding. Their paths cross at Craiglockhart War Hospital for Nervous Disorders, in Edinburgh, in Aug. 1917. Reading of “Not About Heroes”: May 5 at 7:00 p.m.

“The Physicists” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt is the second play in the series and it explores the notion that the quest for new discoveries and knowledge often comes at a dear cost, with high-stake responsibilities and consequences. “The Physicists” places historical figures from different eras into one place and time, in this case, a mental sanatorium, with men who believe they are Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Möbius. The play’s assertion of “What was once thought can never be unthought,” provokes reflection on the social responsibility of science and technology. Reading of “The Physicists”: Sept. 22 at 7:00 p.m.

“A Tender Thing” concludes the 2014 Reading Series. This contemporary remix of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” has been literally rearranged by Royal Shakespeare Company member Ben Power, who has re-woven the familiar tale into an arresting new take on the undying passion of these timeless characters. Reading of “A Tender Thing”: Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m.

Press Manager Rick Engler told Examiner.com that the readings are heavily attended, real audience pleasers.

For tickets or to know more regarding Lend Us Your Ears Reading Series, visit ShakespeareNJ.org or call 973-408-5600.