Proving that the show must go on–even in a pandemic–Signature Theatre is kicking off the fifth season of its play reading series in a virtual, socially distanced-friendly way.
SigWorks is an annual event which shines the spotlight on DMV and regional playwrights through Monday-evening readings of new plays, giving playwrights, actors, directors and patrons an informal way to experience the theater in an informal yet fun way. Over the past five years several plays introduced during SigWorks were developed into full productions including The Gulf by Audrey Cefaly, which won the 2018 Lammy Award for LGBTQ Drama and was a recipient of the Edgerton New American Play Award.
This season’s readings and subsequent Q&A sessions with the director and playwright are free and available for viewing on Signature Theatre’s YouTube channel for three weeks from the premiere date and time listed. This year’s plays are At the Full Yum by Rahima R. Rice (September 21, 2020 at 7pm), The Story of Walter by Audrey Cefaly (December 7, 2020), One-Shot by Andrew Rosendorf (February 8, 2020 at 7pm), and Light by Jarrin Davis (April 5, 2021 at 7pm).
“I’m thrilled to highlight these four remarkable voices over the coming months and can’t wait to share their work in this new virtual setting,” associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner said in a statement.
Playwright Andrew Rosendorf, whose work will be one of the featured titles, is a native of Northern Virginia. One-Shot examines the themes of race, sexuality and identity in the context of the emerging digital age after a bigoted slur is spray-painted onto a video rental store in McLean in 1999 that potentially outs the owner and staff. Rosendorf, who grew up going to Signature Theatre, cites time spent in video stores as a child to hide from sexuality and the country served, as well as the four years of the current administration, as his inspiration. “At the play’s core it’s an exploration of white privilege and fragility, representation, the celluloid closet (ever-present), Jewish fragility and who gets the space to tell what stories,” he says.
Though there are obviously limitations and challenges with holding a play reading online versus the energy and reactions that a live audience brings, Rosendorf is excited for the readings to reach a larger audience. He is also looking forward to “being in a room again, engaging and collaborating on a work of art, [and] the discussion and revisions that will emerge out of this experience.”
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