Tag Archives: Alan Austin

What’s new in Valley theater?

So many Americans seem obsessed with the new. New clothes, new shoes. New computers, new cell phones. New televisions, new music players. New partners, new politicians. We seem to have an insatiable appetite for novelty. Why, then, are we so starved when it comes to the arts? The feast has been spread, but we rarely partake.

The arts menu in Phoenix is much more rich and robust than most folks realize. Fond as you might be of one particular taste—whether the symphony, poetry or musical theater—it’s nice to bite into something new and unexpected now and then. A new creative masterpiece can be every bit as satisfying as a new culinary morsel.

Whet your appetite for new art with the “New Play Series” presented by Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale, a non-profit organization designed to provide a professional theater resource for members and the community. Five new works written by Studio writers will be performed as staged readings between January and June of this year.

A staged reading of the first new work in this series will take place Tuesday, Jan. 5th. Each staged reading takes place for one night only, so get thee to the theater promptly before you let another good thing slip away. Tuesday’s work, by playwright Les Leiter, is titled “The Wrong Tree.”

Having just discovered that my new next door neighbors have a dog that’s rather large and loud, I am especially intrigued by the plot of Leiter’s play: Next door neighbors tangle over a barking dog, a crying baby, manhood, individual responsibility and the effects of the recession. What does it mean, I wonder, to tangle with one’s neighbors? This sounds ever so civilized.

Theatre Artists Studio presents a staged reading of “Podski’s Hole”—a new play by Alan Austin—on Feb. 9th. What in the heck is a “podski,” I wondered, until I read the play’s description: Everyman Podski struggles to survive at all costs, while two imaginary worlds both explore a timeless human predicament of being caught between history and one’s own time. One world seems bent on “blowing itself up,” another on “polluting itself to death.” (It rather reminds me of cable news station rating wars.)

March will bring us Micki Shelton’s “Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance,” an exploration of the life of architect Mary Jane Colter during the early 1900s. May will feature Debra Rich Gettelman’s “In Vino Veritas,” about a married couple with “the perfect life” whose days and decisions are anything but perfect. The final play in the series, by Mare Biddle (and currently untitled), will debut in June.

All are single-night staged readings, best enjoyed by adults, according to Carol MacLeod, a founder and president of the Theatre Artists Studio board who also serves as producer, actor and instructor.

Gettleman is well known around our parts as a rock star writer, actor and theater producer. She’s been with the magazine for years, writing with honesty and insight that’s hard to match. I can only imagine the power and prowess she must bring to the stage.

Next time you’re in the mood to try something new, don’t settle for the “fresco” menu at Taco Bell or the latest “there’s an app for that” gimmick. Get your tickets to the truly new, the truly innovative—the new works premiering at Theatre Artists Studio.


Note: Visit the Theatre Artists Studio website to learn about other upcoming performances, workshops and projects—including “Medea’s Ghost” by Arizona playwright Micki Shelton (coming Jan. 29th to Feb. 13th).