Community theater group to host reading

Contributing writer

The Hyde Park Community Players will host its Friday Staged Reading at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn.

The readings began November 2013 by Laura Macgregor, a few years after the theater group began in Spring 2009. Corinna Chatman, president, said the reading is a way for the group to be creative in a smaller format, done in workshop style.

“It’s really always cool to hear your script read out loud, by the people,” Chatman said. “The author gets to hear other people’s take on their words.”

The play, “The Collection” was written by John Poole. The play is about a man who tries to sell his comic book collection, and it  is based on Poole’s own experience.

“If you know nothing about comic books maybe you’ll get an understanding,” he said.

While Poole’s play is two acts, the hour-long reading will be of just one act. Poole also has written a sequel to “Twelfth Night” which was read at the Staged Reading Night. He said the staged reading is a great way for playwrights to get their scripts a “good hearing.”

“It’s been a fantastic resource, getting your stuff out there,” he said. “It confirmed some things. You learn a lot from it. There’s nothing like an audience.”

Chatman said throughout the years, the group has grown. And, there are more than 400 people on the email list.

“There are lots of opportunities for people all around the area,” she said. “We have a very passionate core of people who are very committed.”

The group also hosted auditions for “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.” The play will run from Saturday to Monday, March 2-11. Leslie Halvorson, the play’s director, said the 2 hour and 20 minute play looks at the story of Iscariot from a courtroom perspective.

“It looks at him as a person, instead of this character,” she said. “What this does is it goes more into why he did what he did.”

Halvorson said it was a play she wanted to direct for a long time. She was first introduced to it in college.

“It was one that kind of stuck with me for a long time,” she said. “It’s not afraid to challenge the things you know.”

Halvorson said she likes shows that take recognizable figures, turns them upside down and has people look at it from a different perspective.

“It’s really trying to figure out who is responsible and whether Judas deserves to go to hell for what he did,” she said.

Halvorson said it is her hope the audience will think about Judas Iscariot and his life.

“I hope that it makes the audience look at thing in a different way and have compassion for characters you didn’t think you would have compassion for,” she said.

Chatman said “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” was brought to the attention of the group a few years ago but didn’t fit into the season. She said she was excited it came back into the rotation.

“Being in Chicago and being in Hyde Park, it changes what the audience is looking for,” she said. “They want to be challenged, they want to think.”