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Santa Monica College Reading Series Tackles Timely Issues

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By Lookout Staff

June 6, 2016 -- The Santa Monica Rep theater company will launch its first reading series this month with a mix of Depression-era classics and contemporary plays on women's liberation, Santa Monica College officials announced last week.

The summer reading series will take place one Sunday each month through September at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage at The Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center.

The four works presented were either Pulitzer Prize winners or runners-up
and address issues that face the nation today, said Eric Bloom, artistic director of the Santa Monica Rep Play Reading Series.

“The national conversation around the current Presidential election inspired our selection of plays for this, our first full season in The Edye," Bloom said. "These plays were enlightening and delightful at the time they were written, and are surprisingly relevant today."

The absurd comedies and poignant dramas, Bloom said, ask important questions such as, "What are our national priorities? Is the future of our planet safe? What can we expect from government?"

The works also tackle sexuality as an enduring taboo subject used in politics and the plight of the working poor, he said.

The series kick's off Sunday, June 12, with Thornton Wilder's 1942 Pulitzer-Prize-winning play "The Skin of Our Teeth," which explores "the near constant catastrophes that human civilization just barely gets through," organizers said.

It will be followed Sunday, July 10, with Frank Galati's adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Grapes of Wrath" set during the Dust Bowl years.

The performance, presented with live music, "reminds us that the challenge of income inequality is ever-present," organizers said. "The play asks what should we legitimately expect our government to provide for the working poor?"

On Sunday, August 21, the series leaps forward half a century with Wendy Wasserstein's 1989 Pulitzer-prize-winning drama "The Heidi Chronicles," a "coming-of-age story set against the women’s liberation movement."

"With the high potential of viable women candidates, the question of and fight for women’s rights is still a topic of conversation in our political debates," organizers said.

The series concludes Sunday, September 11 with a reading of "In the Next Room" by Sarah Ruhl. A 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama in 2010, the play explores the taboo subject of female orgasm, series organizers said.

"Hardly a day goes by where we aren’t bombarded with news debating various questions of sexual identity and liberation," organizer's said. "Ruhl’s play, set in the late 1800’s, shines an uproarious light on what is essentially a person’s private business."

All performances are at 2 p.m. and will be followed by an open discussion with the audience.

Tickets, which are $25, went on sale May 31. All seats are General Admission. For more information visit orcall 310.434.3200.

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