Arts Listings

Virago Alameda Announces Play Reading Series

By Ken Bullock
Thursday July 03, 2008 - 10:12:00 AM

Virago Theatre Company has announced a July and early August series of staged readings of new plays by Bay Area playwrights, featuring professional actors, on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. in Alameda, featuring venues that include a cafe, a drawing studio and community centers, with some readings staged outdoors, followed by wine and talk-back receptions.  

The plays include: Death in Van Nuys by Dan Pine, directed by Tracey Rhys at Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden (1223 Park St.) on July 14; William Bivins’ The Afterlife of the Mind, directed by Laura Lundy-Paine, at Monart Drawing Studio (1918 Encinal Ave.), July 21; Shoot O’Malley Twice by Jon Brooks, directed by Robert Lundy-Paine, at Crosstown Community Center (1303 High St.), July 28; and a triple header of Morgan Ludlow’s The Edge and The Scratch with An Hour in Time by V. B. Leghorn, directed by Angela Dant, at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts (1601 Park St.) on August 4. 

Virago, which has been putting intriguing and diverse shows in a variety of Alameda locations since their unusual staging of Three Penny Opera upstairs in the Masonic Hall off Park St. a few years back, started their reading series in the summer of 2006 (then called “Love on the Edge”), with The Death of Ayn Rand by John Byrd and A Bed of My Own by Berkeley’s Robert Hamm, which were premiered in full stagings by Virago last summer. From the same series, Mankind’s Last Hope by Dan Brodnitz and Jeff Green (reviewed in The Planet), was given an innovative TV studio-style live-and-video production last fall, and The Hermit Bird, also by John Byrd, is scheduled for production next spring. 

“The reading series is a very strong component of our program,” said co-artistic director, Laura Lundy-Paine. “And the response has been great. Two years ago, we received 25 scripts. This year, there were 50. We’ve been averaging audiences of about 40 at each staged reading. Equity actors—and we have a few on board for these—have heard about the series and have been contacting us. And Alameda is a strong community. A lot of actors and dancers have moved here.” 

Virago belongs to Theatre Bay Area’s Bay Area Small Theatres program, along with other locally based companies, like Berkeley’s Impact and Crowded Fire. 

Death in Van Nuys is “an intimate comedy” about the healing that takes place after a divorced middle-aged man moves in with his dying father, an unrepentant communist and former stand-up comedian.  

A philosopher’s wife tries to save her husband’s brain after a botched transplant in The Afterlife of the Mind.  

Shoot O’Malley Twice spins the 1957 tale of an odds-even champ in New York with cosmic clairvoyance and his challenger, The Savannah Kid.  

The Edge tells of a returning kidnap victim’s plight after a four-and-a-half-year, nationally covered abduction. The Scratch has three generations of women confronting their demons. An Hour in Time, based on a true story, is the dilemma of a woman driving with her family’s remains in her station wagon when a truck driver becomes lodged in her windshield. 

Admission is $10 ( or, or 865-6237). Reservations must be made by July 7.