What do people do on a Monday night in Pittsburgh after they leave their day job? You can go to the mall, maybe go to church, how about going out to eat or to a movie. Or just go home until it is time to go back to work the next day. All of those are good options. But how about attending a staged reading during the “Readers Roundtable” at the August Wilson Center that is absolutely free?

DURING INTERMISSION—Doreen Scott talks to playwright Randy Pitts.

On Jan. 9, a sizeable audience enjoyed “Secrets of the Paranormal” by playwright and retired IRS employee Randy Pitts. So what is a staged reading? It is a reading of the play with script in hand, without costumes and blocking. The actors sit in chairs on the stage and read their parts. The reading can be a helpful tool for the writer. The writer can hear their work and often gauge audience reaction.

Pitts has been working on his play on and off for 10 to 12 years and was having trouble developing the ending. He wanted something that offered the biggest element of surprise. The reaction to “Secrets” was awesome. The crowd enjoyed the actor’s interpretation of the characters and the twists and turns of the play. On stage were Mark Southers (AWC artistic director, Theatre Initiatives), Cheryl El Walker, Wali Jamal, Bria Walker, Michelangelo Turner, Jonathan Berry, Tami Dixon and Kim El, as director and narrator.

Before the play, Southers explained the history of the “Readers Roundtable.” It began many years ago in his living room where he and other actors would read August Wilson plays. He did this because often, local actors rarely got the opportunity to perform in Wilson’s plays when they were performed in Pittsburgh. On one night he got a call from August Wilson himself who knew Southers and knew that he did readings on Monday nights in his home. Wilson asked, “Are you still reading plays at your house?” Southers replied yes and Wilson actually took a Jitney to Southers’ home and read one of the parts with the other actors. Two of which performed on Jan. 9—Jamal and Turner were members of the original “Readers Roundtable.”

(Watch this space for upcoming free events at the AWC.)

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