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Writers Theatre of New Jersey Announces Plays In January 2018 Soundings Series

originally published: 12/28/2017

Writers Theatre of New Jersey Announces Plays In January 2018 Soundings Series

(MADISON, NJ) --  Writers Theatre of New Jersey’s annual Soundings reading series kicks off on January 2 with Joe Sutton sharing his latest play, “The Patriot,” at the Dreyfuss Theatre on the Madison campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Soundings brings you fourteen plays in fourteen days, kicking off on January 2nd and running through January 15th. The series features new works from some of the country’s best playwrights – including two Pulitzer Prize nominees, Kilroy and Emmy Award winners, and more – performed by professional actors under the direction of professional directors.

This year’s series tackles many of the issues currently in the news.  Seth Rozin’s  “And Their Sons, Too…” looks at sexual abuse scandals involving coaches in college football and Donna Hoke’s “Teach” looks at the same issue from a public school classroom perspective. Richard Dresser’s “Wolf at the Door” deals with urban gentrification. Joe Sutton’s “The Patriot” is about a crisis at a conservative news network not unlike Fox, and Bob Clyman’s “The Real Story” looks at the challenges of gathering “Real News” in a world where facts now seem to matter less than they have in the past.

All Soundings readings will be held in Madison, New Jersey at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Dreyfuss Theatre.  (285 Madison Avenue)  Each reading will begin at 7:00pm and will be followed by a brief post-show discussion with the playwright and the director, where the audience will be invited to give feedback on the play.  This part of the process is vital, as this feedback often helps to shape the play as it moves forward to future productions; it’s a chance for you to be an important part of the creative process.

Readings are free with a recommended donation of $10 (or pay what you can), but you can get a 7-Play Pass for a donation of $25; a 14-Play Pass for $35; or a Big Read Pass for $50, which gives you entrance to all Soundings Readings as well as their March series at The Bickford Theatre, Jersey City Theatre Center, and Mile Square Theatre.

This year’s plays are:

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Tuesday, January 2 – “The Patriot” by Joe Sutton. An exciting play about the current state of TV news and the ethical and political issues that is raising in our national conversation.

Wednesday, January 3 – “Like Saltwater” by Pia Wilson. A bipolar, African-American woman is locked in a room with her husband's childhood friend, would-be lover, and now priest, Richard while her husband John is dying in their bedroom. 

Thursday, January 4 – “Nichiiwad” by Hal Corley. On a raw November morning, a woman returns to what appears a scorched earth bomb site, the devastating aftermath of a late-autumn tornado that leveled her small Illinois river town. Her home’s contents scattered forever, her two brothers must coax her away from the wreckage, adapt their strategy in response to Corrie’s quicksilver defense mechanisms. Freed from her protective asylum, will Corrie finally accept the help she’s long needed for her deteriorating mental state, or take a final stand against her equally wounded family amid the ruins of so much lifelong struggle? 

Friday, January 5 – “Hurricane Colleen” by Tammy Ryan. Six months after their sister Colleen has died of cancer, sisters Maggie and Rosemary rent a beach house in Melbourne to have a memorial and scatter Colleen’s ashes. The family reunion is interrupted when a tropical depression forming in the Caribbean suddenly turns into a hurricane and is heading their way. Though they fall within the “cone of uncertainty,” the sisters and their partners decide not to evacuate. As the strong winds and rain bands begin, strange encounters with wildlife signal something more is going on, both between the sisters and with Mother Nature as they struggle to ride out the storms both outside and inside. 

Saturday, January 6 – “And Their Sons, Too...” by Seth Rozin. Joe Koehler was an almost godlike figure as the longtime head coach of a storied college football program, until news broke that he failed to properly deal with the predatory sexual behavior of one of his assistants, and he died of a sudden heart attack. Two years later, his wife of 51 years, and his younger son are just beginning to get their lives back together when the family lawyer arrives with news of the continuing investigation. Picking up where Arthur Miller’s classic, ALL MY SONS, leaves off, AND THEIR SONS, TOO… asks us to consider the human price we pay for needing our heroes to be saints and our villains to be pure evil. 

Sunday, January 7 – “Encounters” by Yasmine Rana. A collection of ten-minute plays between saviors, friends, and eternally optimistic want-to-be lovers. The evening's fleeting moments include Leaf Cutters, a finalist in Miami’s City Theatre’s National Short Play Contest and At The Barre presented at Luna Stage’s New Moon Short Play Festival. 

Monday, January 8 – “Memoirs of a Forgotten Man” by D.W. Gregory. A Soviet journalist with the gift of total recall. A government censor with a secret past. A psychologist seeking to rehabilitate herself. Over two decades and across thousands of miles, their fates become entwined as victims and collaborators in Stalin’s campaign to rewrite public memory.

Tuesday, January 9 – “Teach” by Donna Hoke. Ten years ago, Ken and Chris were teacher and student with a questionable relationship. Now, as principal and teacher, a suspiciously high grade prompts Ken to grill Chris until the young teacher is forced to confront the past--as well as the present. 

Wednesday, January 10 – “Wolf at the Door” by Richard Dresser. Nine tenants, a shady landlord, and one run-down apartment building all come together in this story of neighbors and gentrification. Keith, an often-passive resident, involves himself in his building's Tenants Association: a motley crew of young and old, well-to-do and not, and Americans and Norwegians alike. In the face of Dr. Muldge, their wealthy yet distant landlord, they swear to hold their ground in the face of apartment renovations that seem to good to be true. 

Thursday, January 11 – “Redux” by Rob Zellers. JOHN and CHUCK have not seen each other since completing their two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. During their time in-country they were subject to fierce jungle combat and horrific atrocities. Now, in 2017, they have very contrasting memories of their experiences, reflected in starkly different ways of coping and the different paths each has traveled since. Their reunion brings many painful recollections and recriminations before they are finally able to craft a truce based on the bond that was forged in the jungle crucible of Southeast Asia forty-five years earlier. 

Friday, January 12 – “Ghost Story” by Lia Romeo. Lydia’s just looking for a one-night stand, and so she’s met a cute guy at a bar and brought him back to her apartment. But now things keep getting in the way. Like the fact that they could hardly be more different (she’s forty, he’s twenty-eight; she’s black, he’s white; she’s a New Yorker and he’s from the Midwest). And the fact that he’s still not over his ex. And the fact that her apartment might very well be haunted. A play about ghosts – both literal and otherwise – and the ways we try to move forward. 

Saturday, January 13 – “The Excavation of Mary Anning” by Ian August. Amidst the groaning cliff sides and sandy shores of southern England, fossil hunter Mary Anning combs the earth for glimpses of the ancient past. Armed with only her determination, her lucky hammer, and her erstwhile companion, Tray, Mary uncovers secrets that redefine science and religion and philosophy. But 19th century geology is a nobleman’s game, and Mary’s discoveries are buried beneath the rubble while the stars of her male counterparts grow ever brighter. The Excavation of Mary Anning is a historical fantasia about things that come from the earth and things that go to the earth, and one woman’s quest to reclaim her legacy in a society that refuses to acknowledge her worth. 

Sunday, January 14 – "The Real Story" by Robert Clyman. Mark, an eccentric freelance reporter, meets the troubled and haunted Stuart at an airport. Mark intuitively senses Stuart has an exciting story to tell, and works his charismatic charm until Stuart confides he joined a secret rebel group in Southern Peru.  Before Mark can report Stuart’s incredible story, the content editor insists on hiring a professional fact-checker to verify his claims. Enter Nina, a professor, intellectual, and chief fact-checker for the Peruvian Literary Consortium, determined to uncover the real story. 

Monday, January 15 – “Branwell (and the other Brontës): an autobiography edited by Charlotte Bronte” by Stephen Kaplan. The Brontë siblings (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne) had incredibly vivid imaginations that allowed them to create such masterpieces as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. However, it is in their own private fantasy worlds, first invented when they were children, that they find their most inspired outlets. With a clear set of rules, they escape to these worlds whenever fancy pleases them. But when reality threatens to crash in, the siblings start changing the rules in order to avoid the inevitable and fight to keep their cherished worlds alive. Though set in the past, Branwell (and the other Brontës): an autobiography edited by Charlotte Brontë is about how, throughout time, we tell stories that can unite us all together in our humanity. 


“We are working on an extraordinary group of plays this year, many of whom are by writers familiar to WTNJ audiences, including Seth Rozin, who wrote “Two Jews Walk into a War,” D.W. Gregory, the author of “Radium Girls,” Richard Dresser who wrote “Augusta,” Tammy Ryan, author of “Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods,” and Robert Clyman who wrote “Where the Sun Never Sets,”” said Artistic Director John Pietrowski. “As always, we will follow up the readings with the quality discussions our audiences have come to expect.”

Staged readings, like those in the Soundings series, allow playwrights to hear their work read aloud by professional actors and to see the reaction of audiences to their play; the performances and reaction help the playwright determine what changes, if any, are needed to further develop the script. For audiences, this is a way to become part of the creative process and to help shape brand new plays. It’s also an inexpensive way to see a lot of great, professional theatre close to home.

Soundings will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Dreyfuss Theatre, on the university’s Madison, New Jersey campus, and each performance will begin promptly at 7:00pm. The readings are free with a suggested donation of $10 or you can purchase a Soundings pass for $25, which gets you into all fourteen readings.

For more information on the individual plays and playwrights and for tickets, click here.

Writers Theatre  presents around 10 of these readings per year. Plays presented will be a mix of new submissions and continued relationships with writers whose work has been developed at WTNJ in the past.

Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  
Mile Square Theatre Presents It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play
(HOBOKEN, NJ) --  Mile Square Theatre, Hudson County’s leading professional theatre, revives its beloved production of It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play by Joe Landry. Mile Square Theatre becomes a live recording studio in the golden age of radio, and MST theatre goers become the studio audience as WMST “goes on air” to broadcast Frank Capra’s popular holiday story. The production begins performances on Thursday, November 29 and runs till Sunday, December 23.  

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.

Event calendar
Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018


PUDDLES PITY PARTY @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 2:00pm and 7:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


An Evening with Award-Winning Author Jimmy Santiago Baca @ Summit Free Public Library, Summit - 7:00pm


Linda Shields, The Jersey Shore Medium @ iPlay America, Freehold - 5:00pm

View all events


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