The distinct outline of rooms left behind when the Pub Charles was torn down left many a Scrantonian looking up with curiosity. What kinds of drama had gone down in this mysterious downtown building over the years? Inspired by the possibilities, nine local playwrights have written a new short play set in a fictional Scranton boarding house called "The Providence Arms."
Set at different points of time in history, the plays range from comedic farce to dramatic monologue to science fiction fantasy and are alternately romantic, side-splitting, evocative, philosophical, heartbreaking, surprising, and inspirational. They’ll be presented Sept. 22-25 at the Olde Brick Theatre on Market Street in North Scranton in a program titled Dyonisia ’11.
The inaugural "invitational" produced by the Jason Miller Playwrights’ Project, takes its name (unconventional spelling and all) from a program of three original plays presented by Scranton Theatre Libre in 1977 titled Dyonisia ’77. That company would go on to merge with another company to become Scranton Public Theatre, under whose auspices the JMPP has been operating formally since 2008. The name was co-opted in recognition of Scranton Public Theatre’s long-time dedication to the development and production of local, original work beyond that of well-known former artistic director Jason Miller, including such plays as Coaltown Breaker by Michael Cotter, The Fire Down Below by Jack McDonough and Bob Shlesinger, and The Last Thoughts of Gino Merli by Tom Flannery. In the project’s words, they are not breaking ground, but rather continuing this long tradition of championing new, homegrown plays.
Fashioned after the concept of an invitational used by art galleries to showcase the highest quality work by their community’s most esteemed artists, Dyonisia was designed to replace SPT’s successful 2004 program Summer Shorts, in which an open call was put out to regional playwrights at any level of experience to submit work without heed to theme or timeliness or other restrictions. Naturally, not all of the writers invited to participate in this year’s Dyonisia were available and/or interested.
Participating playwrights for 2011 include: Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, Tom Flannery, K.K. Gordon, Alicia Grega, Jack McGuigan, Maureen McGuigan, Mark Meier, Sarah Stachura Regan and John Pivovarnick. The plays will be performed in two acts by an ensemble of actor/directors including Stephen Pauley, Carla Reck, and Alex DeVirgilis, in addition to Regan and Pivovarnick. Guest actors include Conor McGuigan, Eric Lutz, Bob Balitski, and Bob Solfanelli. As coordinator of the JMPP, Grega is producing the event with support from Scranton Public Theatre.
Shows will be offered Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Sept. 22-25. Seating is limited and reservations will be secured only with advance ticket purchase. The $10 donation is requested to offset the cost of playwright commissions, actor/director stipends, and production costs including sets, costumes, etc., but as long as seats remain open at curtain, admission will not be denied to those who cannot afford the full donation. Visit www.SubverseAphrodesia.com/dyonisia.aspx to secure tickets call SPT at 344.3656 for more information.
Non-musical, full-length scripts by regional playwrights are now being accepted by the JMPP for consideration in its 2012 season of staged readings and developmental workshops. Email email@example.com for guidelines.
- alicia grega
Editor’s note: Alicia Grega volunteers as the coordinator of the Jason Miller Playwrights’ Project.