Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Until Death Do We Read

Photograph of Karen Allen provided by The Pocono Mountains Theater Company.

On Saturday April 30th, The Pocono Mountains Theater Company presented a public reading of the work titled, “Until Death” which was written by Sarah T. Schwab. The production was presented in The Smith McFarland Theater located within the Fine Arts Building on the Campus of East Stroudsburg University of PA. The reading was the third and final installment of the Company's Inaugural 2016 Season.

The play is about an elderly woman who is faced with a life/death decision after her husband, who has be diagnosed with a terminal heart disease, informs her that he will spend his final days alone in order to spare her the emotional distress of watching him die. A work such as this requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief so the audience could become emotionally invested in the characters' lives and their perspectives of them. The challenges presented in a staged reading increases as many members of the audience may find it difficult to forget they're only watching a play since the actors are reading from a hand held script.

Yet, due to the excellent writing skills of Ms. Schwab and the extraordinary abilities of the actors to bring a life force to their characters, the presentation dissolved the circumstances which the piece was being offered as the reality of the play penetrated the heart of all who experienced it. Ms. Schwab's proficiency as a playwright was demonstrated by the manner in which she addressed the deep and sorrowful emotions embodied in the work's subject matter. She allowed a good dose of humor to permeate the play so the authenticity of its heart wrenching themes could be more psychologically palatable to the audience. This and the natural rhythm of the characters' dialog created a meaningful theatrical evening that enhanced the audience and their appreciation for the art form to great effect.

The actors who read from the well crafted script not only honored the work through their performances of it but enhanced its depth through their deftly rendered interpretations of each utterance and thought expressed through its words. The role of Joey was played by J. J. Condon who can be seen on the television program titled, “Outsiders” in the role of Enoch. The role of Barry was played by Jeffrey Demunn www.facebook.com/Jeffrey-DeMunn-267661009926761/?fref=ts who appeared in numerous films including “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “The X-Files: Fight the Future” as well as roles in several television series such as “Law and Order: SVU” and “The Walking Dead.” The role of Cora was played by Karen Allen who is best known for her co-starring role with Harrison Ford as Marion Ravenwood in the films, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Ms. Allen will be seen in the soon to be released film titled, “A Year By The Sea” and is currently in the process of making her directing debut for the film titled, “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud.” www.ATreeARockACloudthefilm.com

Sarah T. Schwab is a fiction writer, opinion journalist, and playwright. Her work has been published in the magazines,“Tin House, “The Missouri Review, The Evergreen Review, and Writer’s Digest Magazine. She has written a Sunday column titled, “A Scribbling Woman’s Limbo” for the Dunkirk Observer. In addition to this, Ms. Schwab and Brian Long www.brianlongartistmgmt.com formed The Pocono Mountains Theater Company in 2015 to serve the Monroe County, PA area. You can learn more about Sarah T. Schwab by exploring her Website at www.sarahtschwab.com.

According to their Website, The Pocono Mountains Theater Company seeks “to produce and develop diverse new works by American artists, both local and national; to cultivate and develop audiences to support the future patronage of American theater; and to provide a positive collaborative impact to the community, both culturally and financially.” They also seek to provide residencies for local theater producers and artists while maintaining “a diverse new works and artist development platform for national and local artists.” You can learn more about The Pocono Mountains Theater Company, about what they offer to the community, and view images and video clips of their endeavors by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/PoconoMountainsTheaterCompany/?fref=ts or their Website at www.poconomountainstheatercompany.org.

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