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Joe Balding of Hodge Podge (far right) recites his lines during a script reading for the play Women and Guns as Marlo Tinkham (left) and Carol Ault (middle) listens at Arts West on Sunday, January 8. Hodge Podge has play readings the first sunday of every month at Arts West.

More emotion, less theatrics in series

A typical theater performance involves weeks of preparation and many different performance aspects. In its newest series, though, ARTS/West is stripping down the process to create a more raw performance.

Sunday, ARTS/West, 132 W. State St., began its Hodge Podge play-reading series with a reading of Women and Guns by Steve Gold. The series will feature two more shows Feb. 5 and Mar. 4.

The readings will be completely stripped down, with no sets, costumes or stage movement and the actors reading off of scripts. There will be no rehearsal time either, allowing the actors more freedom to present the characters in their own way.

Yesterday’s show, directed by Karen Chan, told the story of a female Iraq War veteran named Tiffany Hansen. Hansen grew up in poor economic conditions and because of this chose to join the Marines. She eventually left to fight in the war and later battled post-traumatic stress disorder.

The show was originally introduced to ARTS/West when Chan proposed it for the 2011 Humble Play Series. While it was not chosen for that series, Chan immediately said yes to the directing opportunity this time around. The play, she said, is a strong representation of the issues facing its protagonists.

“Steve Gold hasn’t written a neat and tidy play. It is messy, as is war,” Chan said. “Being poor is messy and having no choices but to join the service is, well, messy.”

Since the show deals with a heavy subject matter, Chan chose actors she had worked with before to perform the reading. Marlo Tinkham, who played Tiffany Hansen and has been with ARTS/West for two years, said she researched her character and PTSD heavily before the reading took place.

“I have done a lot of reflection, making choices about the character in how she is different and how she is the same as me, and allowing myself to feel what it would be like to not be able to get something completely horrifying out of your head,” Tinkham said.

Following the reading, there was a moderated Q&A session where members from the audience asked about a variety of subjects of war Gold discusses in the play. Chan said this was one of her intentions when she was asked to direct the reading.

“There is an important story here, and we are going to help Steve Gold tell it.  This is one baby step that Humble Play is taking to help the playwright towards getting his play produced down the road,” Chan said.

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