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A View From the Cliff: A festival of readings at Brooklyn College

No sets, no stage, no costumes. Just the power and presence of real theater. The Brooklyn College Department of Theater (Kip Marsh, chair) presented its inaugural festival of readings entitled “New Works Brooklyn.”

For five consecutive days, five original plays have found a willing audience, thanks in part to exceptional actors and provocative discussions. The “after-play” sessions provide face-to-face interaction between the audience, playwright, director and curator.

On Wednesday evening, the first project; “Megastasis” by Kia Corthron offered seven very talented performers whose readings provided a unique journey unmatched by a fully staged production.

Artistic Director Mary Beth Easley introduces the event. The narrator sets the mood. With scripts in hand, the performers await their turns at their reading stands. Soon the audience is transported to another time and another neighborhood. We witness infuriatingly harsh realities confronted by the characters. The title, “Megastasis” refers to the overwhelming effects of illness both societal and individual. Yet, the intangible strength of the family, both young and old, manages to reinvent itself and to endure.

Clearly, the subject of urban injustice depicted in the drama is not new. Nevertheless, director Elena Araoz has skillfully interwoven the hard statistics provided by the playwright. The actors capably share the shocking information with a special combination of emotions and intellectuality. During the Q&A, the playwright elaborates on some of society’s ongoing inequities. She also explains how the play’s optimistic or at least bittersweet conclusion gives the audience greater motivation.

Four more original works comprise this inaugural effort. Each one represents a project generated by creative, experienced, award winning members of the theatrical community.—Thursday’s play,” The Last Book of Homer,” is written and directed by Jose Rivera (Andy Buck, curator). On Friday evening, the spotlight belongs to “I Will Be Gone” by Erin Courtney, directed by Mary Beth Easley (Joshua Bastian Cole, curator). Saturday’s presentation, also in Roosevelt Hall, is “The Small” by Anne Washburn, directed by Benjamin Kamine (Molly Marinik, curator). Sunday’s production is “The Offending Gesture” by Mac Wellman, directed by Meghan Finn (Christine Snyder, curator).

For information on Brooklyn College’s future theatrical productions, surf to As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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