This summer, we test-launched a new program here at Martian, aimed at giving writers the chance to hear new works out loud in front of a small invited audience. We dubbed it the "Martian Artist Reading Series" -- MARS and presented three diverse works on August 1, 3 and 15. We kicked off the series with Daniel Mitura's slice-of-life dramedy "Love Among Friends," in which four high school friends meet up ten years after graduation, only to find that some of the choices they made then will have repercussions for the rest of their lives. The reading featured performances by Micky Solid, Daniel Mitura, Leigh Wade and Lauren Schaffel, with stage directions read by Patrick Shane. The reading was a hit and sparked conversations about how the feelings we have when we’re young may not ever truly go away – they morph and change, but are always with us …. We are looking forward to keeping in touch with this up-and-coming writer and the talented cast he assembled!
Next up we heard from Nana Visitor, with her play "bardo.” As Nana’s notes say … Is it the gas? The jones for Zoloft? The tequila? Or a divine concatenation? An actress out of options and on the brink finds the most unlikely lifeline to help her remember how to put being Human first… The reading featured amazing performances by Isabel Keating, Austin Pendleton and Marcia Sofley, while William Dixon Popp handled the stage directions. Nana recently attended a writers’ retreat read by Jeffrey Sweet, and had another reading of the play in Los Angeles. She is continuing to revise the script – as she says, “attacking it from a different perspective.” We can’t wait to see what comes next!
The final piece in our beta-test of a series, was "Life's Scary," a comedic television pilot by Martian Media's own Sam Gold. In the pilot, Jonny Potts, a smart, sarcastic, once-successful writer, moves into her Uncle's old Ditmas Park Victorian, lured by free rent and time to work on a comeback novel -- but it's a trap. The place is haunted and Jonny is soon stuck with her family's curse: forced to spend her days looking after the house and its horrific boarders. “Life's Scary” is a horror comedy about the things you can't control in life and how to make the most of them. The reading featured performances by Jamie Angelo, Marcel Spears, Spencer Lott, Kathleen Kim , Renata Milillo Townsend and Justin Danforth. Read before a standing-room-only crowd, the audience had a great time imagining how Sam will work puppets and special effects into his smart and funny script. Keep an eye out for updates on “Life’s Scary.”
We at Martian know the value of having a space to hear your work out loud during the critical phase when audience input can help shape a script, and an author can see if he or she is going in the right direction. Since this was the first test run of a new program, we learned a lot along the way. We hope the writers learned something too! One of the biggest a-ha! moments came to us as we were discussing the series as a whole in a staff meeting after the first round of readings was completed. Since we've always envisioned being able to hold screenings in our space we hit upon the So-Obvious-It-Should-Have-Hit-Us-Before name change to: Martian Artist Readings and SCREENINGS !! Upcoming events will feature short or full length films and web series by Friends of Martian....
Our next round of MARS will be announced soon, with readings and screenings taking place before the holidays. Watch this space for more information!