Developing new work: The Cybec Readings

It’s an exciting week at our Lawler Studio, as we present three new works by award-winning Melbourne playwrights in our annual series of Cybec Readings. This year we have three diverse stories to share; a thrilling world chess championship, a hilarious comedy set in a Chinese massage joint, and a satire dealing with eating disorders.

The readings are a celebration of all the hard work the writers have done to this point, but they also give writers a chance to see their work on stage – a crucial part of the development process, according to our Associate Director, Aidan Fennessy.

‘Writers need feedback; sometimes that comes from a dramaturg or director, but most importantly it comes from an audience,’ he says. ‘This is a chance to road test these works under audience conditions. It helps reveal the shape, rhythm and tone of a piece.’

Without a full rehearsal period behind them, the readings are also raw and spontaneous – which, for both the audience and the actors, adds to the excitement of being among the first people to experience a new work.

‘The directors and their casts have only one day to rehearse and knock it into shape – there’s very little time to explore,’ Aidan says. ‘The adrenalin is always running high – [it’s] seat of the pants stuff.’

The first script to be read will be Paul Galloway’s Reykjavik. The play is set during the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, where then-world chess champion, Russian Boris Spassky, faced eccentric American challenger Bobby Fischer in what was billed the ‘match of the century’. Lasting more than 40 days, this marathon Cold War showdown was filled with the kind of histrionics you’d expect from rock stars, not chess players – outrageous venue requirements and prize money requests by the players, risky moves, no-shows at matches, and demands that TV cameras be removed because their noise was causing distractions. The perfect recipe for the stage!

Reykjavik will be read tomorrow, 22 November at the MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio from 7pm. Tickets are just $10 for Adults, and $5 for Under 30s.

For those of you who are hungry for a bigger dose of new work, you can also come along to the readings of Happy Ending by Melissa Reeves on 23 November, and Robert Reid’s Eating Alone on 24 November.

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