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Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse Presents THE SMOKING CAR by William Dean Howells

Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse Presents THE SMOKING CAR by William Dean Howells

Obie Award winner Metropolitan Playhouse will present a free "screened" reading of THE SMOKING CAR, a one-act play by William Dean Howells, via live stream video, with talkback to follow, on Saturday, July 25th, 2020 at 8 PM, EST.

Mr. Roberts is entrusted with a priceless package by a stranger on his train: her infant child.

She IS particularly anxious, and her tale is NOT particularly convincing, but he's barely paying attention.

What could possibly go wrong?

In the Rail Car Series of WD Howells's plays (The Parlor Car was featured in the Virtual Playhouse on May 9), AND an Edward Roberts/Willis Campbell story--a series in which Howells found his most trenchant satire--The Smoking Car is a light-hearted alert to the dangers of coming to the aid of a fellow human being.
Lest we forget.

Discussion following the reading includes audience participation.

The reading will be directed by John Long and features with a cast, including Howard Pinhasik, Marlaina Powell, Jen Reddish, Hannah Sharafian, and Blaine Smith. Music for the presentation is by Michael Kosch, and backgrounds are painted by artist Martha O'Connell.

William Dean HOWELLS (1837 - 1920), was a novelist, critic, poet, and playwright, known as The Dean of American Letters. Born in Ohio, his early career included a clerkship in the state House of Representatives before he turned to journalism. After writing the campaign biography LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1860), he was given a consulship in Venice, and on his return to America, he settled in Cambridge, MA, and began his ascent to literary prominence. Writing for Harpers and the Atlantic, he became editor of the latter in 1871. His dramas tended to the farcical, or self-proclaimedly melodramatic. But he established himself as a literary critic, as well, and was a proponent of "Realism" in literature, championing the works of such up and coming figures as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Abraham Cahan, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. In 1904, he was one of the seven first inductees to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he later became president.

The Playhouse's virtual readings serve to help us compensate performing artists, so particularly hurt during this long "pause."
Information about the theater's ARTISTS RELIEF FUND may be found at

The VIRTUAL PLAYHOUSE began on March 28, 2020, and has been simultaneously broadcast on New York's Pacifica Radio Station WBAI, 99.5 FM since April 11. Exploring the possibilities of "remote" ensemble, Metropolitan has pushed the envelope of Zoom broadcasts, with increasingly sophisticated virtual settings and sound design. Each reading is enhanced by conversation with the artists and a guest scholar for an hour-long live entertainment every Saturday night. Reaching an audience across the country and around the globe, the presentation of the forgotten one-act plays is an ideal way to pursue the theater's mission exploring America's diverse theatrical history.

Running Time: 35 minutes
Talkback to follow, including audience questions via Zoom and YouTube chat

Available via Zoom and YouTube at
Audio Broadcast on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York or

All links available at:

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