World Stage – The Martha’s Vineyard Times

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Earlier this year, an organization called the Center for International Theater Development (CITD) commissioned a number of Ukrainian playwrights to create new works which, according to their website, “offer a first draft of the story through a theatrical lens”. The center then offered the plays to various theater companies around the world, and so far 42 organizations in 22 countries have presented selections as part of the Worldwide Ukrainian Play Readings Project.

This weekend, winegrowers will have the opportunity to attend readings of pieces from the project, thanks to the new organization Circuit Arts. On Saturday, July 30 at 7 p.m., Circuit Arts (the umbrella body that encompasses Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, as well as other initiatives) will present a program of readings featuring local actors and directed by Brooke Hardman Ditchfield.

“These pieces are about as timely and relevant as they come,” says Ditchfield. “We selected works that were written directly in response to the last invasion.

“When there are times of conflict, that’s when people look to the arts community to shed light on current situations,” adds Ditchfield. “The purpose of [Ukrainian Play Readings] The project was to give a voice to the people there on the ground. To have a first draft of the story as it goes.

Ditchfield, who joined the Circuit Arts organization in March as Director of Theater Arts and Live Events, discovered the project through her association with the Arlekin Players of Needham. “I used to hear about the plays being performed in theaters in New York and DC,” she says. “I wanted to take them to the vineyard.” All proceeds from the readings will go to Ukrainian aid organizations that have been approved by the CITD.

Ditchfield says she had access to the full body of work, and she and her local team of actors read all 92 plays and came up with a selection of five plays – short plays, monologues and scenes. The cast will include all members of this team: Amy Barrow, Nicole Galland, Chelsea McCarthy and Mac Young.

The readings will be presented in the air-conditioned theater upstairs at Grange Hall in West Tisbury. This will be the third theatrical event for Circuit Arts. In May, the organization hosted a reading of a new play, titled “A Piece of Silver” by a Wampanoag playwright. This was followed by a hybrid theater and film production created by the Arlekin Players based on Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard”. Ditchfield says Circuit Arts will continue to offer programming throughout the shoulder season and through the winter months, with a focus on introducing new voices from across the country and around the world.

Of the Ukrainian project Play Readings, Ditchfield says, “I think it’s important that we continue to bring pieces like this to the Vineyard. There are things going on in the world that are easy for us on the island to lose sight of. We must keep our hearts, ears and eyes open to witness what is happening in the rest of the world and try to help where we can. Theater is a really powerful tool.

Worldwide Ukrainian Play Readings Project, an evening of short plays presented by Circuit Arts, will take place on Saturday, July 30 at 7 p.m. at Grange Hall. Tickets are available at bit.ly/ukraineplays.

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