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  • Writer's pictureSpotlight News Hampton Roads

Script Club – by LTN and PCT

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

Words by Nina Martin. Image courtesy of BA Ciccolella.

What do you do when you can’t safely bring the community performances? You bring them the scripts!

It all started with some Little Theatre of Norfolk board members sitting around the LTN Green Room talking about community involvement. To perform a play, you need people. You need actors, you need a production team, and you need an audience. And certain plays require specific skills or actors to produce properly (your humble author has been DYING to put up a production of Allegiance). How could they get more people interested in a wider range of pieces so we could present a broader range of material. The answer: Script Club. People love book clubs, why not have one for scripts? Minimal commitment, broader reach. The idea was born and slowly started to be brainstormed in the free time around putting up the current season.

Enter COVID-19.

Suddenly, all the shows stopped. Everyone went into crisis mode. COVID hit everyone hard, but the Arts and Entertainment sector had its unique challenges . Theater is dependent upon groups of people, on stage and in the audience. Within a matter of days, one couldn’t even enter the venue except to quickly check the mail and make sure the trash was put out. Shows were cancelled, patrons were contacted, tickets were refunded or, generously, converted to donations or complementary tickets to whatever the next show might be. And most of it was done remotely from volunteers’ homes. Theater leaders started watching endless webinars about sanitization, the Small Business Administration, licensing law, and the difference between “streaming” and “broadcast.” They stayed up late worrying about the future of their theaters and their patrons. They had late night chats and Zoom meetings drinking wine, comforting each other, and mourning. But then, they got back to art.

Theater was not defeated by the fall of Rome, nor the Black Death, and it will not be defeated now. Theater folk are nothing if not creative. How do you continue to bring the arts to the community when you can’t be within six feet of the community? You see what you can do over the internet as far as performances… and Script Clubs!

Little Theatre of Norfolk partnered with the Peninsula Community Theatre to get Script Club off the ground. The idea was to offer at least three plays at first, with as much variety as possible, but titles that were somewhat known in order deliver a strong start to the concept. The first offerings were Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The initial response was very promising.

Each selection is approached organically. The facilitator chooses the dates, times, and what will be discussed at each meeting. Some divide the discussions up by act. Some by topics. Some by characters. And the facilitators adapt according to what the participants want and need. Some run more like a class, others more like a traditional book club. The response thus far has been very promising.

There are many new faces in attendance, some from as far away as the West Coast. The theatres are able to have conversations with the community about what they want to see and learn about. In return, the presenters are able to introduce a work to the public before investing in staging a production.

Script Club has just finished Neil Simon’s Lost In Yonkers and will soon be reading Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Another Shakespeare will be announced shortly, and there are several other facilitators working on new selections. If you would like to attend Script Club, check out the LTN and PCT websites, or their facebook pages. New plays are announced at least a week in advance, and links are provided to sources for each script. If you would like to suggest a play, or lead a discussion yourself, please submit a proposal here.

Little Theater of Norfolk’s website and Facebook page. Peninsula Community Theater’s website and Facebook page.


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