The Richard and Betty Burdick Reading Series

by Alex Hill

Every year, FST presents The Richard and Betty Burdick New Play Reading Series, an endowed workshopping experience in which three new plays receive readings every May. Since its beginning in 1996, the series has gone on to help numerous shows reach the stage, including this season’s How to Use a Knife and Honor Killing.

During the series, actors, playwrights, and audience members come together to hear new work and provide feedback to help the piece grow. Each play is rehearsed for 15 hours beforehand, and presented, script-in-hand, as a staged reading in front of an audience.
“Without new plays, we wouldn’t have any old plays.,” said Associate Artist Jason Cannon. “Classics all started as world premieres. The New Play Festival is part of the lifeblood of FST. Many of our mainstage shows, such as Dancing Lessons and this season’s Honor Killing (among others), were vetted and developed with the Burdick Reading Series.”

Kicking off the 2018 series, on April 29, is The Whole Shebang by Emmy-nominated writer Jason Odell Williams. This comedy follows the story of high school senior, Kate, who decides to sue her school after her teacher delivers a lecture on humans being responsible for climate change. Will Kate let the lawsuit go for the good of her family, or stay true to her heart even as a massive storm approaches threatening to wipe Kate, the school, and her entire town off the planet?

Following The Whole Shebang is Big Scary Animals by Matt Lyle on May 6. A hilarious collision of race, sex, guns and sports, Big Scary Animals examines shifting generational beliefs, and just how hard it is to raise a child regardless of who you are and where you live.

Closing the series on May 13 is FST favorite Mark St. Germain with his new work, Wednesday’s Child. Mystery and murder are brought to life in this dramatic tale of right and wrong when an investigation into the murder of a surrogate mother explodes the lives of all around her.

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