Theory – Staged Reading – The New Ideas Festival – Alumnae Theatre

By Sam Mooney

Long title, isn’t it?

I saw Theory by Norman Yeung, a wonderful staged reading, on Saturday as part of The New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre.  I didn’t go planning to review it but it was so terrific that I decided to write about it – and about staged readings.

Theory is a beautifully written play about a film course, a professor, her students, technology, new media, and privacy. There wasn’t really a set.  There were chairs for the actors and for the person who read the stage directions.  Each of the actors had a script and read from it.  They read as if they were performing, not as if they were reading.  It really is like a radio play.

You may be asking yourself “what is a staged reading?”

That’s what I asked my daughter on Friday.  She reminded me (I suspect with an eyeroll but we were in the car and I couldn’t tell for sure) that I had actually been to one a few years ago – and loved it!  Except I thought it was called a reading and I didn’t even realize that until afterwards.  During the performance – if a reading is a performance – I just thought it was a really cool way to do a play.  It let my imagination run wild, sort of like watching radio drama.

A staged reading is the same as a reading.

It gives the playwright an opportunity to put his or her work in front of an audience, to see how the audience reacts, and to get feedback.  I think it’s fairly far along in the creative process and that the next logical step is to do some refining – if needed – and then mount a production of the play.

I hope that Theory is produced soon.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

In the meantime there are two more staged reading as part of The New Ideas Festival:

  • THE FLYING AVRO ARROW – A Musical Comedy by Doug Warwick • Directed by Nonnie Griffin
    Saturday Reading at Noon – March 20
  • WEIGHTLESS by Kelsey Blair • Directed by Ramona Gilmour-Darling
    Saturday Reading at Noon – March 27

Both are pay what you can.  There was a full house on Saturday so don’t wait til the last minute, you might not get a seat.

One caveat about staged readings

If you think that going to the theatre could be a bit intimidating – or a lot intimidating – the intimidation potential of a staged reading is quite high.  They tend to be in small spaces – the capacity at the Alumnae Theatre Studio is 80 people – and they tend to attract a lot of theatre people.  And that can be unnerving.  Theatre people tend to be flamboyant, all know each other, and hug and kiss and talk loudly.  At least that’s the way it can seem.

Three years ago I probably wouldn’t have gone to a staged reading on my own.  But now, it’s fine.  Anyone can do it.

If you’d like to go to one of the reading and don’t really want to go alone you’re welcome to come with me.  Email me and we’ll set something up.


-Staged Readings, Week Two and Week Three, The New Ideas Festival, Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley St)
-Saturday March 20 and Saturday March 27 at noon
-Tickets at the box office