Boston Playwrights Theatre Presents ABSENCE, Now thru 3/2

Boston Playwrights Theatre Presents ABSENCE, Now thru 3/2

Boston Playwrights' Theatre (BPT) continues its 2013-14 season with Absence by award-winning playwright Peter M. Floyd. Running from today, February 6 through March 2, the drama will be directed by Megan Schy Gleeson.

Absence - Floyd's thesis play as an M.F.A. playwriting student at Boston University - tells the story of 76-year-old Helen, whose lapses in memory have not diminished her need to control her family. The play was a co-winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Jean Kennedy Smith Award in 2012. Absence was also a 2012 finalist in the ALLIANCE THEATRE's Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition.

The play marks the BPT debut of director Megan Schy Gleeson. Gleeson has worked in both regional and New York theatres and is on the performing arts faculty of Concord Academy. The cast features Beverly Rose Diaz, Anne Gottlieb, Bill Mootos, Dale Place, Cheryl Singleton and Joanna Merlin as Helen.

"This play has been in my mind ever since we read it in our First Stages Reading Series back in 2012," BPT Artistic Director Kate Snodgrass says. "Peter has really found his voice through this piece, and this director and these actors-Joanna Merlin in particular and Anne Gottlieb as her daughter-are so simpatico. I can't wait to see Absence finally come alive in all its heart and theatricality."

Absence has had a number of readings at theatres across the country - most recently at New Jersey's Midtown Direct Rep starring Olympia Dukakis - and with each developmental opportunity the play has reached a new stage in its evolution. One striking change, Floyd says, has been the dramatic reduction of the number of characters in the play - from 17 to six.

With the removal of characters and other elements unnecessary to the story, "the spine of the play became suddenly clear," Floyd says. "It was the relationships between the women of the family: Helen the mother, Barb the daughter, and Samantha the granddaughter . . . The [possibly apocryphal] story told of Michelangelo is that he carved his statue of David by chipping away all the marble that didn't look like David. In my case, it was about removing the piece of the play that wasn't Absence at all. The result is a leaner and, I hope, a more powerful piece - one that's finally grown up."

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