By Adam Collier
On a recent snowy Monday evening, about thirty people gathered at the Rearview Mirror in Kensington Market. They were there to hear a new play in development. The event goes by the name The Foundry Theatre Reading Series.
The readings are on the last Monday of each month between September and May. If the few times that I’ve been are anything to go by, the event is more than the introduction of new writing to the public.
Like a performance, the work is handled with far more thought than a cold reading. Since there are no props, no setting, and no costumes, the readers – professional actors – have to work hard. They’re not just mechanically puffing-out syllables – a lot of discipline and energy is evident as they assert life into characters.
But the text is in-development and feedback is welcome. Although evaluative commentary that explicitly states how a playwright ought to improve the text has no place in the room. So in that respect, First Draft is like a workshop.
To keep the intention of the writing clear, each new work (there is one at each event) has a program, that usually provides a synopsis of the play. The texts can vary greatly from month to month. For instance last November was a reading of “Beautiful Savage” by Kathleen McDonnell which is “loosely based on the true story of Marie-Angelique Memmie LeBlanc; a wild child found wandering in the woods in France in 1731”. Two months later I heard a new work by David Copelin, titled “Snorky and Dora” which is ostensibly a comedy set in 1920s New York and Chicago.
This month’s reading was of “Plighted Troths” by Elmar Maripuu, “the story of four couples – one pair in England in 1940, and one pair in the Soviet Union 17 years later. Both pairings explore the toll that strong political beliefs impose on personal loves and lives, during and after the Second World War.”
I would recommend this night, particularly for anyone who enjoys plays but doesn’t usually go to the theatre. The Rearview Mirror has zero-pretences, and allows one to engage with the substance of the work by encouraging casual questions and observations.
– It begins at seven o’clock sharp, and usually runs for about two-and-half hours.
– The cost of admittance is Pay-What-You-Can (they suggest $5), and can be paid at the door