STORY WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG
Some of the most unusual and thought-provoking theater I have ever seen has been created by the Reading Theater Project. I end up talking about productions long after I leave the theater. From a polished production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” with an RTP twist, to the unique, first-of-its-kind jazz opera “Da Ponte” to “Speakeasy,” an original play based on Reading’s history, RTP brings intelligent and entertaining productions to the stage.
The plays often reflect Reading and Berks County’s heritage. “Speakeasy” gave me a look at what Reading was like long before I was born. The original play recreated the prohibition era at a time when Reading had a reputation for being a wide-open town. For this show, RTP moved to the Olympian Ballroom in West Reading and “transformed it into “The Diamond Mine,” a successful speakeasy.
RTP returns to the Olympian this month with a play that features Berks County legends and folklore. “Dead of Winter: Berks Haunting” is also sure to have people talking.
Directed by Joel Richard Gori, RTP’s new play, by Sue Lange and Elizabeth Clark, “Dead of Winter: Berks Haunting,” will draw on haunting folk-lore of the forgotten people of Berks County’s history including the Lenni-Lenape, slaves, abolitionists, and beatniks between the 1700s and 1950s. It runs Jan. 27-29 and Feb. 3-5.
“Doing research for Dead of Winter has been another great experience,” says resident playwright Sue Lange. “As is true of most of Reading Theater Project’s pieces, we delve into Reading’s past and discover amazing facts and wonderful secrets about our area. I can’t wait to present this to the public.”
The production boasts a wide array of the company’s talent with newcomers joining the ranks of RTP’s collective of theatrical artists. The cast is comprised of regional actors; Margot Adams, Vicki Haller Graff, Nina Kendall, Kyle Lewis, Christopher David Roché, Nelly Torres, and Amy Young. In addition to Gori and his cast, the production team includes: Christine Cieplinski (Costume Designer), Abbie Davies (Assistant Stage Manager), Craig Dodge (Lighting Designer), Andrew Pochan (Scenic Designer), Kris Savell (Production Stage Manager), and Chris Heslop (Music Director); who is creating an original score for the production.
“We are dedicated to our mission: To work as a collective and create new theatre inspired by our region. Reading and Berks County have such a wonderfully vibrant community that deserves to have their stories told,” says Managing Director, Christopher David Roché. “Thanks to the risk taking of Berks’ audience we have been able to grow and push the boundaries of theatre; forging an artistic home and identity. Without their support and investment we couldn’t take the creative risks we have and will continue doing.”
Performances of “Dead of Winter: Berks Haunting” take place at the Olympian Ballroom, 603 Penn Ave, West Reading PA, 19611.
Dates & Times:
Friday, Jan 27th @ 8pm
Saturday, Jan 28th @ 8pm
Sunday, Jan 29th @ 2pm
Friday, Feb. 3rd @ 8pm
Saturday, Feb 4th @ 8pm
Sunday, Feb 5th @ 2pm
Advanced tickets are available online at readingtheaterproject.com or through the box office. Ticket rates are: $20 adults ($25 at the door), $10 students (K-College) with industry and group rates available at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Reading Theater Project is multigenerational collective of performing artists who create new theater in Reading, PA. Since 2003, RTP has given local professional performing artists an artistic home, with opportunities for collaboration and development. For more information and ticket purchases please visit readingtheaterproject.com or call 484-706-9719.