I hadn’t even known that this was a thing, but it’s a good thing. Infinitheatre has a mandate to promote and develop Quebec Anglophone theatre, and in the cadre of that mandate, they celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Pipeline reading series last week. This series of play readings, along with Write-On-Q and The Unit, form a triumvirate of development work that seeks to push anglophone playwrights to the next level. While Write-on-Q is open to the general public, a selection is made of the most promising work and that goes into The Pipeline public reading series. These readings are pay what you can, and open to the general public, making this an extremely accessible theatrical experience and puts the public into the dramaturgical seat, as there is a directed talk-back at the end of the performance to give feed-back directly to the playwright.
Personally, I love play readings, just because the lack of a final set of actions allows your imagination to run with the staging possibilities, all the while bringing the play to life by hearing it off the page. It becomes an even more active experience for the audience, and the fact that you are then invited to think critically and constructively about the experience adds another level to the evening.
I had the chance to see (Hear? Whatever) Lunch Hour by Oren Safdie, the runner up from Write-on-Q this year, who wrote Unseamly, which Infinitheatre mounted to great acclaim in the winter of 2014. The play is in its advanced stages of development, and is most likely being turned into a musical, but this version was very interesting. A couple of married people repeatedly meet in a diner for lunch, and their friendship develops into a full-blown affair. While this bald premise may seem a bit kitchen-sink, I am failing to express the surrealistic tones of the play that make this hilarious and poignant, as the fantasy turned reality relationship takes on a life of its own. When this play finally falls onto a stage, I recommend that you go see it, as there is a lot of meat on the bone.
The experience had made me wish I had seen the other offerings being read at the Rialto, whose third floor attic space makes you feel like an artistic spy, but alas, there is only so much time in a day. However, next year, keep an eye out for this series, as it offers a chance to see into the theatrical future, and gives you an idea of what is travelling through the ether and will end up in front of you in seasons to come.
More information can be found at http://www.infinitheatre.com/ for all development series.