“The play’s the thing…”is a famous line from Hamlet. He’s hoping a play will confirm the identity of the ghost as his father by watching his uncle, the king’s, reaction to a scene in the play. The use of a play to ferret out the truth was common in the Renaissance when playwrights asserted their writings encouraged virtuous behavior.
This famous line has also been used by theatre groups to focus our attention on the writing of a play not just the staging. If you’ve ever been to a reading of a play, you quickly become immersed in the story and hardly miss the staging at all.
Play readings before an audience is very common in New York. And, why not? It’s a great way to focus the audience on the story, the words and the actors all without the expense of staging. Now play reading has come to our beloved neighborhood treasure, the Ebell of Los Angeles in the form of PLAYdate, the brainchild of Cynthia Comsky, producer whose credits include live theatre and TV movies.
Next Sunday, January 27, PLAYdate, now part of the Ebell of Los Angeles, where Comsky is a member, will present The Gin Game read by American Theater Treasures, Charlotte Rae and Hal Linden, directed by Diane Rodriguez,associate producer at CTG and stage directions to be read by Robin Riker, actress and new Ebell member.
The Gin Game debuted in 1976 in a 56-seat theatre in Hollywood after which it toured the world winning numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1978. The two-act play is the story of Weller Martin, who plays solitaire on the porch of a seedy nursing home. He meets Fonsia Dorsey, a prim, self-righteous lady. The discover they both dislike the home and enjoy gin rummy, so they begin to play and reveal intimate details of their lives in a complex battle of wills.
Comsky came up with the idea of PLAYdate because she loves producing and wanted to share amazing plays with small forums without the expense of staging.
“I love doing this,” said Comsky. “It’s great for the actors and the audience and we get to do some good for the Ebell philanthropies too.” Guests are asked to bring a skein of yarn to support the knitting club Comsky started to make warm blankets, hats and scarves for Helen’s Room at Good Samaritan Hospital that provides support to women undergoing cancer treatment.
PLAYdate debuted in July 2009 with Beau and Dylan Bridges reading TRUMBO by Christopher Trumbo, directed by Beau Bridges & Christopher Trumbo. It was such a hit, Comsky decided to do it again. In October, Annie Potts, Adam Arkin and Jennifer Finnigan read THE OTHER PLACE, written by Sharr White, directed by James Hayman. It was the first public reading.
In March 2011, Comsky brought PLAYdate to the Ebell with Come Get Maggie, a 14-person musical about a woman who longs to be abducted by aliens based on the book by Diane Frolov with music by Susan Justin and directed by Allan Holzman.
In March 2012 Allison Janney, Christina Pickles, Sarah Thompson and Pressley Coker read THREE TALL WOMEN, written by Edward Albee, directed by Cameron Watson. In October of last year, Alan Rachins, Catheryn Brockett, and Joe Hernandez Kolski read MISTAKES WERE MADE written by Craig Wright, directed by Ellen Sandler. Since starting in 2009, Comksy has presented ten Playdates!
“We are delighted to have PLAYdate at the Ebell,” said Patti Hill, Ebell President. “The Ebell has been a literary salon for the city over the years.”
So if you think, “the play’s the thing, ” make plans to attend PLAYdate at the Ebell of Los Angeles on Sunday, January 27. The reading will start promptly at 5 p.m. followed by a light supper prepared by Ebell chef Louis Pican all for the extremely friendly price of $35 a person. Visit www.ebelleventtickets.com for tickets and more information or call the Ebell at 323-931-1277.