If you want people to see your play, one option is to give it away for free.
Atlanta-born playwright Lauren Gunderson has done just that. She offered up her show “The Taming” to any theater company, group or person who wanted to do a staged reading free of charge … for one day: Jan. 20.
Over 40 companies across the US responded, including a few here in Atlanta. The Weird Sisters Theatre Project has teamed up with 7 Stages and Synchronicity Theatre to put on the show.
“Plays are made of ideas and ideas don’t belong to anyone, they belong to all of us,” Gunderson explains to "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes, on the phone from her home in San Francisco. The playwright notes theater’s ability to gather groups of dissimilar people in its audiences.
“It’s the coming together to share an idea, to bring your history and yourself to it that completes a play,” she says.
“The Taming,” written in the wake of the U.S. government shutdown in 2013, reimagines Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” as a political farce in which its characters attempt to rewrite the Constitution. Gunderson says offering this story to be read on the day of the presidential inauguration was her attempt to gather people together to examine ideas about government and humanity, sugaring the pill with comedy.
“This is not a play that tells you what to think,” says Synchronicity artistic director Rachel May. “This is not a play that has just one perspective. It’s a play that really throws these ideas up in the air. As artists, we’re able to look at the divides that are happening in our country and to use laughter to release some of the tension, but also to investigate some of the ideas.”
And in that, Gunderson insists that in the context of acts like calling your representatives and making your voice heard, attending the theater is a political act.
“Showing up and meeting people you hadn’t ever met before, or sitting next to someone you might now know or think like, that’s great civic work too.”
The staged reading of "The Taming" takes place at 7 Stages Friday at 7 p.m. Entrance is free.