A room filled with people sitting in chairs in a circle might seem intimidating, but to some Ohio State students, this was a chance to shine by participating in a cold read of “Baltimore.”
The “Baltimore” cold reading, a play that is part of the Big Ten Theatre Consortium, took place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the New Works Lab located in the Drake Performance and Event Center.
All theater departments of the schools involved in the Big Ten Theatre Consortium work together to commission new female playwrights to write for the college-aged demographic, said Jennifer Schlueter, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and the coordinator of the Lab Series.
“Baltimore” was originally written by Kirsten Greenidge, one of the female playwrights part of the Big Ten Theatre Consortium.
Schlueter said “Baltimore” is the second play, “Good Kids” being the first, that the Big Ten Theatre Consortium will present for the fall season. Currently, organizers are seeing how people respond to the play before sending it to the production committee.
“Baltimore” tells the story of resident adviser Shelby, her residents and how they deal with a “post-racial” age. They still have hang-ups on how their parents and their hometowns have dealt with race.
Their thoughts and feelings on race are put on display when one of the residents, Fiona, draws a racially charged cartoon of another resident, Alyssa. From there, the residents are left on their own to deal with the conflict while Shelby avoids going back to the dorm and her residents.
Eventually, Shelby and her residents are faced with the reality of race, discuss it and work on their differences as the play comes to an end.
The play talks about issues with race and how college students deal with it. The dialogue is brutally honest and will make people look closely at themselves and how they view race. The goal is to open up a dialogue about race.
The play was done as a cold reading, where people read the play’s dialogue out loud, similar to how actors do a table reading for a show or a movie.
At the cold reading, the seats were positioned in a circle instead of arranged in rows and facing the stage. With this method, people were invited to take roles from the play. It was purely optional and anyone could just sit and read along with the script. It was fun and involved everyone who wanted to be there.
Charles Boyles, a fifth-year in international relations, was one of the participants in the cold reading.
“It was a really cool setting to see theater get done in,” Boyles said. “I had never seen anything like it. It was really cool to see a piece get picked apart.”
Tameishia Peterson, a fifth-year in theater, was another participant in the cold reading.
She said “Baltimore” is a really good piece as it covers a lot of important topics, however, it’s confusing as to who the audience is.
Peterson said if it is written for students, the complex structure could turn a lot of people off or have an adverse effect.
My take on the play is that even though it was only a cold reading and not an actual stage performance, it was done very well. It was as enjoyable as watching a play, if not more. The cold reading allowed everyone to get involved instead of just sitting in the dark for an hour and a half and then leaving the theater. It also allowed the participants the chance to discuss the play and what it meant to them. Hopefully, the play will move past cold reading and on to stage production.
Admission is free and Lab Series plays are open to everyone. Information on the plays can be found at the Drake Center website. The next Lab Series play is Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m.