Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez & More Set for Playing on Air Readings at BRIC House Next Month
Playing on Air, which presents readings of short plays by prominent, contemporary American playwrights for a national audience via public radio and the Internet, inaugurates a new initiative next month. On consecutive Mondays in March, Playing on Air presents its first plays for radio broadcast taped in front of live audiences.
Readings of six short plays by notable American playwrights (three per evening) will be recorded at BRIC House, 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, on Mondays, March 24 and 31, both at 7:30pm. The live performances will feature, among others, Bobby Cannavale, Julie Halston, Bill Irwin, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez and Nilaja Sun. The plays are by David Lindsay-Abaire; Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros and David Graziano (March 24), and by John Guare; David Ives and Jacquelyn Reingold (March 31). The evenings are hosted and moderated by Claudia Catania, Playing on Air's founder and producer.
Since launching in 2012, Playing on Air has produced 12 separate programs, recorded in studio, featuring 33 plays. Aired on a current total of 43 public radio stations across the country, the programs are distributed by PRX, the public radio exchange for independently produced radio content. "Our goal is to overcome the hurdles of limited access, cash or time and expand the audience for quality contemporary theater," says Catania. "We also want to showcase a wide variety of voices. The short play form, which is rarely produced professionally, jives perfectly with the rhythms of radio listening."
Playing on Air has produced plays by Lynn Nottage, Warren Leight, Beth Henley, Christopher Durang, and David Auburn, among others. A sparkling roster of actors has taken part so far -- actors as diverse as Bobby Cannavale, Chris Cooper, Hope Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Richard Kind, Jane Krakowski, Audra McDonald, Debra Monk, Tonya Pinkins, Jerry Stiller, to name just a few. Together its participants have dozens of major awards, including Pulitzer Prizes, Tony Awards and Oscars. A show archive and production history are available for free online at www.playingonair.org.
Each Playing on Air evening yields a one-hour program for the radio. After each of the play readings, a brief conversation with cast members, directors, and playwrights takes place, excerpts of which are included in the broadcasts.
The distinguished theater sound designer John Kilgore, who has been creating unique sound designs for many of the plays, will also adapt his process to the live setting. The series composer is Tom Kochan. (Suz Dyer has also done the sound design for some of the previous episodes.) "Radio, like reading, invites its audience's imagination," Catania notes. "We think the wedding of radio and theater, which certainly has an illustrious history, can be reinvented and made to respond to the rhythms and habits of tech-savvy consumers today."
Jack Walsh, BRIC's Director of Performing Arts said "We are thrilled to be working with Claudia to present and record Playing On Air before a live audience at BRIC House. Their mission of expanding the audience for theater by making it more accessible is perfectly aligned with the hallmarks of BRIC's mission, which include quality and accessible arts and media; and by recording in front of a live audience we are opening up the creative process for attendees to experience.
"Ultimately we want to cultivate future audiences for the theater as well as future artists," Catania adds. Playing on Air's assistant producer is the award-winning public radio producer Julia Wetherell.
Tickets are $15 advance / $18 at the door for each of the Playing on Air evenings on Mondays March 24 and 31, both a7 7:30pm. To purchase tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit bricartsmedia.org/tickets. BRIC House is located at 647 Fulton Street. BRIC's brand new multi-disciplinary arts and media complex opened in October as a central component of the revitalized Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District.
Photo by Walter McBride