Play readings for $1 — or maybe $2


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While the famously experimental Neo-Futurist theater group has its audience members roll a die to determine the price of their tickets, Riverside Theater keeps it a little simpler: flip a coin. One side, your ticket is $1, the other, $2.

With this unique pricing system, the offering of free coffee and priced “adult beverages,” and the lack of sets and costumes for its Dollar Dog Reading Series, Riverside has shaken up its usual theater environment.

At 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14, local playwright Megan Gogerty will participate in the Dollar Dog series by reading from the first act of her new play, Housebroken.  While the stage will be bare, Riverside and partner Working Group Theater said audiences can expect a lively, casual, and surprising experience from the live reading.

Gogerty has also premièred her two other solo shows at Riverside, Hillary Clinton Got Me Pregnant and Feet First in the Water with a Baby in My Teeth.

“This Dollar Dog reading I am excited about because it [Housebroken] is a brand-new play; I’ve never done this play for anyone, ever,” Gogerty said. “I did a reading of it this summer … but I’m rewriting it as we speak. So we’re going to hear the first half of the play, and the people who come and see it are going to be the first people in the history of Earth to ever hear this new draft. I’m writing it, and I’m making dramatic changes from my summer reading, so it’s going to be brand-new.”

Sean Lewis, a co-producer of the Dollar Dog Series and artistic director for Working Group, said the readings allow playwrights to see how a show not only sits with the audience but with the playwrights themselves.

“They’re all brand-new plays, some of them have not been seen in any kind of incarnation," Lewis said. “It’s a way for us and Riverside to kind of test out new work in front of an audience in kind of a reader’s theater style. Not so much staging, but the actors reading from the script first.”

Lewis cofounded Working Group with Jennifer Fawcett and Martin Andrews in 2009. While they focus mainly on documentary-style productions, the group also develops plays. Both Lewis and Fawcett will contribute their works to the readings later this year and into next year.

Fawcett said her latest work, Birth Witches Part 2, is part of a trilogy of plays — beginning with Birth Witches, which was produced at Riverside in October 2013 — that focus on pregnancy, midwives, and women’s bodies. While the first installment took place in 15th century England, part two will be set in America post-Civil War.

“Essentially this is a historical drama, and I’m tracing how the politics of birth changed and developed as they came to America,” Fawcett said. “So I’m going to be looking at some of the first female doctors and the entrance of women into the medical profession, but also post-Civil War America and what that was like as well as the role of midwives in the African-American community but also in the white community.”

Lewis’ and Fawcett’s readings will take place on Oct. 26 and May 3, 2015, respectively. Gogerty said the Dollar Dog Reading Series is a “fantastic” opportunity for audiences to experience the early stages of a play’s production process.

“I think sometimes, the great thing about theater is that it’s kind of like a really good — great party, and you have to be there. If you don’t go, if you don’t physically go, then you don’t get to participate,” Gogerty said. “You create the event, the audience creates the event — theater without an audience is just a rehearsal, like it doesn’t actually happen.”

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