Baltimore's Centerstage series puts audience in the writer's seat - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Baltimore’s Centerstage series puts audience in the writer’s seat

Ten dollars does not buy a heck of a lot these days.  But for the price of a double latte and doughnut or two six packs of Natty Boh, theater fans can enjoy not one but three different plays this weekend and in the process perhaps have a say in making each one a little bit better.

For the fourth year in a row, Centerstage is featuring a number of staged readings in a series entitled Play Lab.  According to Heather C. Jackson, Public Relations Manager for Centerstage, “The Play Lab is the latest incarnation of several series Centerstage has done over the years exploring new or lesser produced works, plays in development, and other types of performance.  In the past there have been First Look readings, OFF Center, and other programs that allowed audiences to watch and/or interact with informal staged readings of new or experimental work.”

The Play Labs are staged readings but that doesn’t mean the readings are necessarily static.  Any movement of the actors is altogether at the director’s discretion.  One piece last spring even featured a work-in-progress collaborative dance performance.


The Play Lab performed James Magruder’s Dunkler-Related Disorders in October 2010. The play centers around Cary Dunkler, an AIDS activist, who returns home to save his sexaholic brother from their mother’s religious righteousness. (Centerstage courtesy)

This weekend’s Play Lab is the second and final such program of the season.  The previous Play Lab was produced in November.

For this final installment of the season, Centerstage will feature the work of Thomas Bradshaw.  Bradshaw’s provocative plays have won a number of awards and have been produced, not only stateside, but also abroad.

In 2012, Bradshaw was among fifty playwrights commissioned by Centerstage to write a monologue for My America.  Along with his exciting stage work and numerous other projects, Bradshaw is creating a screenplay adaptation for HBO and Harpo Films based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The intriguing lineup for this weekends festival deals with facets of the Southern legacy in America and is as follows:

Friday, January 25 at 8 p.m. – Mary

At the height of what Time magazine dubbed the “AIDS hysteria” in 1983, college student David invites his boyfriend home to his parents’ house in Virginia, where nothing has changed since the 1800s – including the slave quarters.

Saturday, January 26 at 8 p.m. – Southern Promises

When the master of the plantation dies, he wills his slaves to be freed, but his wife doesn’t think that good property should be squandered.  The play is inspired by the true story of Henry Box Brown, who escaped to the north by mailing himself in a box.

Sunday, January 27 at 2 p.m. – Strom Thurmond is Not a Racist

An absurdist look at the life of Senator Strom Thurmond.  After fathering a child with his black maid as a young man, Thurmond became one of the country’s greatest segregationists; all the while playing daddy to his bi-racial daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams.

Running times differ for all three shows.  A short feedback forum will follow each performance.  Tickets for the Play Lab and other information may be found here or by calling the Box Office at 410.332.0033.  Please note there will also be an open rehearsal from 3–5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.  Patrons interested in seeing more than one performance or attending the open rehearsal should contact the Box Office at


About the author

Anthony C. Hayes

Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A former reporter at the Washington Herald, and Voice of Baltimore, Tony's poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!, SmartCEO, Magic Octopus Magazine, Destination Maryland, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. Contact the author.

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