Article by Kristen Schweizer
February 14, 2023
Theatre is one of the oldest and strongest storytelling mediums because of its ephemeral immediacy. Plays are meant to be told by real people to real people without distraction, as the reception of spoken lines is as important as the words themselves.
This precious, active exchange between writer and listener was honored at the talkback following A Celebration of New Writers at The Roustabouts Theatre Co on Monday, February 13, 2023. “Zoom is great for lots of things, but not for play readings!” proclaimed playwright Janet S. Tiger, to much agreement on stage and off.
“After hearing a line in my head for so long, it’s funny to hear how it lands in the room,” commented James Hebert, who spent more than two decades writing about theatre for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He presented his first play. His witty comedy B-17 tackles post-pandemic neurosis and grief with meet-cute bar banter.
The one-night-only cycle featured staged readings of eight short plays. The writers spanned industry and life experience from San Diego-based actress Carla Navarro to the self-taught Pete Mitsopoulos. Two-time Grand Slam Poetry Champion Gill Sotu is an award-winning screenwriter and published author who recently announced his commissioned play Saint-George’s Sword & Bow will be performed alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. It was a pleasure to see his comedy riff, SLAP (Sounds like a Plan). Multipotentialite Carla Navarro performed – and is currently onstage at Cygnet Theatre’s El Huracan – and also beamed with pride through the reading of her own intimate dialogue. Navarro’s Always is a gem, portraying the complexity of marriage and motherhood within a bi-racial, economically-unequal lesbian couple on the brink of birthing a first child.
The diverse collection of perspectives was curated by Roustabouts’ co-founder Will Cooper. Audiences seeking a new, local theatre can look forward to his full-length play, gUnTOPIA. The show originally open-and-closed on the same evening in March 2020, thanks to the pandemic. It returns to the stage directed by Kate Rose Reynolds and Rosina Reynolds, starting March 16, 2023 on the Moxie Theatre stage.
Humans consume stories in many forms, be it one thousand-page novels and 30-second television commercials. Through these lenses, we learn to understand our world and ourselves. In this special evening, Roustabouts fulfilled its mission of showcasing San Diego’s diverse and underrepresented population of talented playwrights – and a chance to see each other too.