Three-week Manatee Playreading Festival begins Friday

September 5, 2013 

Mark and Diana Shoemaker in "Madison's Father." PHOTO PROVIDED

Dylan Jones thought of calling his new event "The First Annual Manatee Playreading Festival." But he opted against it.

"That just seemed kind of presumptuous," he said.

He chose instead to merely bill the new three-week celebration of local playwrights as "The Manatee Playreading Festival." But he said that if audiences and playwrights appreciate the event, he'll repeat it next year and officially start calling it an "annual" festival.

It gets under way this weekend. Sept. 6-7, with a reading of David F. Smith's new play "Madison's Father."

Dylan, a long-time presence in the area's theater community, spread the word that he was looking for new scripts by playwrights from Manatee County. He chose three to be included in the festival. The others are "The Cabbie" by Delia Revard (Sept. 13-14) and "Not Our Time" by Bernie Yanelli (Sept. 20-21).

Dylan will direct all three plays. They'll be read by experienced area actors, reading from scripts, with minimal sets, costumes and movement.

The first play, "Madison's Father," concerns a man forced into early retirement who discovers that his frustrated wife has already made plans for her future. It's performed by real-life couple Mark and Diana Shoemaker.

"The Cabbie" revolves around a day in the life of a New York cab driver. "Not Our Time" is a dramatized account of the racism, poor education and other obstacles that well-known local musician and former NFL player Henry Lawrence, endured while growing up in the 1960s.

Details: Sept. 6-21, Small Theater at the Manatee School for the Arts, 700 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Tickets: Free; $5 donation suggested. Information: 941-728-6800, ext. 1095.

-- Marty Clear

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