Companion Reading Series — Palo Alto Players

This is something new for the Bay Area.  paplayersWe have many theatres with subscription series and we are fortunate to have many theatres who produce staged readings from time to time, usually of new, unproduced work.  Palo Alto Players recently announced their ”Staged Reading Companion Series”:  they are coupling each play in their season with a play reading of a different play, similar in theme or subject matter to the season play.  The plays being read (for free! — always nice) are not new plays, but have all had successful productions and are by seasoned and well known playwrights.

Readers of TheatrePlayByPlay know that I am a big fan of play readings.  Readings can run the gamut from totally cold readings of the script by actors at music stands with little or no rehearsal, to various levels of staged readings where the actors might have had a few hours or a few days with a director, or there may be slight nods to costumes, sets or a small amount of blocking or directed movement.  I love that readings require the audience to use our minds’ eye to flesh out the production values — make the story and actors and words combine with our own imaginations to create the experience.

I think Palo Alto Players Staged Reading Companion Series is a terrific idea and will enhance the community’s enjoyment and experience of both Palo Alto Players series plays and the readings.  Thanks PAP — I’ll be there!

Here is Palo Alto Players’ description of the companion plays to be read:

A new series of free, one-night only staged readings to enrich your theatrical experience


Playwright Calamity West

Playwright Calamity West

September 27, 2017

by Calamity West


…a companion staged reading for Palo Alto Players’ production of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET


In a swank French hotel room in the mid-1960s, an artist hides out from a world that’s turned on him. As a cavalcade of familiar faces tries to break down his door, he smokes, talks, drinks, and tries not to think about acoustic versus electric. But when a prime career opportunity lands on the table, he has to decide which version of himself he wants to be, and how to keep the past from bubbling up beneath him. Calamity West delivers a hilariously sardonic examination of how you hold onto your art when everyone else thinks that it’s theirs.



Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer

Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer

November 15, 2017

by Deborah Zoe Laufer
…a companion staged reading for Palo Alto Players’ production of PETER PAN


With genomic breakthroughs happening at breakneck speed, we can learn more about what our futures may hold than ever before. But how much should we know? And who gets to decide? An electrifying new play by one of the most exciting voices in American theater, INFORMED CONSENT is a powerful drama about one woman’s quest to answer the mysteries of science and her own life. Inspired by a landmark court case between one of the country’s largest universities and a Native American tribe based in the Grand Canyon, INFORMED CONSENT takes us into the personal and national debate about science v. belief, and whether our genetics define our fate.


Playwright Moises Kaufman, leader of the team of theater-collective collaborators who created The Laramie Project

Playwright Moises Kaufman, leader of the team of theater-collective collaborators who created The Laramie Project (photo: Ken Friedman/ Tectonic Theatre Project)


January 31, 2018

By Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber
…a companion staged reading for Palo Alto Players’ production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT


Ten years after the murder of Matthew Shepard, five members of Tectonic returned to Laramie to try to understand the long-term effect of the hate crime. They found a town wrestling with its legacy and its place in history. In addition to revisiting the folks whose words riveted us in THE LARAMIE PROJECT, this time around, the company also spoke with the two murderers, McKinney and Henderson, as well as Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard. THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER is a bold new work, which asks the question, “How does society write its own history?”


Playwright Laura Eason

Playwright Laura Eason

May 8, 2018

by Laura Eason
…a companion staged reading for Palo Alto Players’ production of ROCK OF AGES


1992. Chicago. Hank is struggling to keep his legendary rock club going amid changing times and changing tastes. But when his beloved daughter, Lena, starts dating a rising-star DJ, Hank must contend with the destructive power of the Next Big Thing. Like a blast of feedback from a Fender amp, THE UNDENIABLE SOUND OF RIGHT NOW brings to hilarious and heartbreaking life the moment in popular culture when Kurt and Courtney ruled, but Moby was just around the corner…



Playwright Meg Miroshnik

Playwright Meg Miroshnik

June 27, 2018

by Meg Miroshnik


…a companion staged reading for Palo Alto Players’ production of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER


The tiny hamlet of Poor Prairie doesn’t see a lot of folks coming into town, least of all men – they’ve all left to find desperately needed work. So when one gets off the train, everybody talks. But this man is mysterious. He’s from Poor Prairie, but nobody knows where he’s been and his story’s got some…gaps. A few things are clear, though – he’s teaching at the high school, he knows basketball, and most importantly, he has the only inflated basketball in town. Inspired by the flourishing and the decline of high school girls’ basketball teams in the 1930s rural Midwest, THE TALL GIRLS asks: who can afford the luxury of play?


For information on how to reserve seats for the staged reading companion series, join Palo Alto Players’ email list or check our website for updates. Season subscribers will get first access to reservations and priority seating for the series. Purchase a season subscription online today, or by phone at 650-329-0891, or in person at the Box Office at the Lucie Stern Theater located at 1305 Middlefield Road
in Palo Alto, Tuesday-Thursday 11 am-4 pm PT.

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