One inspiring yard sale


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For Maggie Conroy and four of her friends, deciding what was trash and was treasure wasn’t a simple process.

After holding a yard sale in June with items they narrowed down to be least important, Conroy, who holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop, created a play based on her adventures.

“The task of deciding what to throw out is overwhelming,” she said. “Having friends come by to help you was a lot of fun and made attachment easier — you were encouraged by your friends to throw out things.”

A staged reading of The Tag Sale Project will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St. The play will also be read at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets are currently sold out, but to be placed on the waiting list, contact Riverside Theatre’s box office.

The Tag Sale Project follows the story of five middle-age women who helped one another clean out their basements or attics. The women are at an age in which they have gone through a lot and have gathered many items in their lives. Together, they decide to hold a yard sale in effort to get rid of possessions they have accumulated over the years, including toys, glass, jewelry, political buttons, and a lot of Beanie Babies.

Conroy wrote the script in about a month based on e-mail communication among the five friends and their individual reflections. The five women read the script in front of 40 friends in the store window of RSVP, 140 N. Linn St.

Conroy then proposed a one-time performance to Judy Hovland and Ron Clark of Riverside Theatre. The Tag Sale Project was added to the season because it was a “unique offering,” Hovland said.

The single event quickly turned into three performances because tickets were selling out. Hovland said a possible reason for the fast-selling tickets is that the subject of the play is something all can relate to.

“I think everybody has had to make a value judgment about the worth of an object and whether it’s something that can be let go of or if it has to be kept,” she said.

Conroy said the five women in the play also discover what is valuable in a friendship. Through humor, the women begin to understand the powerful concept of what is important, which she thinks is a message that everyone can appreciate.

The 45-minute play is a “remarkable invitation” into this group of friends, Hovland said.

“By the end of the play, we feel as if we know them well and wouldn’t mind being a friend ourselves,” she said.

After the reading of The Tag Sale Project at Riverside Theatre, Conroy said she isn’t sure what will happen with the piece. The women in the play are professionals who have other jobs, so the chances of touring with the show are slim.

Because each woman has her own voice in the piece, Conroy noted that she would not like other actors playing the roles.

“It’s almost a little piece of reality,” she said. “And I’m recreating it.”

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