Playwright Enid Graham

Alma Theatre Company in California’s Bay Area is launching its Fresh, Raw and Wild New Play Reading Series with Enid Graham’s ensemble drama What Martha Did Sept. 15 at Phoenix Theatre II in San Francisco. Alma founder Kelli Kerslake Colaco is partnering with New York City’s 72nd Street Gang, of which she is a member, to present script-in-hand West Coast readings of plays by Gang members.

“Resident players of Alma Theatre Company get to wrestle with top-notch new plays, writers are afforded a brilliant listening opportunity so they can grow their plays, and Bay Area theatre lovers get a front row seat on the action of watching great theater come to life,” Colaco said in a statement.

The indie professional Alma company is building on the foundation of a well-reviewed production of Colaco’s play with music you are my sunshine, which premiered in the 2017-18 season. The company’s goal is to continue presenting a mix of full productions and developmental readings.

Kelli Kerslake Colaco

“Alma Theatre Company is building a distinct reputation for edgy, high-quality work from an exceptionally talented company of actors,” Colaco said. “This new collaboration with 72nd Street Gang adds a very unique fuel to this fire.” A new play by Gang member Kenneth Jones will be the next Alma Fresh, Raw and Wild reading, to be announced at a later date.

In What Martha Did, as previously reported in these pages when the play was an O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist in 2015, “a family gathers to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Martha’s celebrated book of essays. All except Martha, who killed herself soon after the book’s publication. Haunted by the past and events they can’t explain, her family struggles to move forward. How can they reconcile the Martha they knew who wrote so brilliantly about the joys of living, and the hidden Martha who ended her life? And how can they reconcile their own dreams of youth with the people they have become? And then a mysterious young woman arrives…”

For the Fresh, Raw and Wild series, 72nd Street Gang playwrights are invited be part of the short rehearsal process and public reading, but if they are not able to make the cross-country trek, they can watch the presentation via Skype, and there’s an opportunity for the playwright to appear at an audience talkback via Skype.

Enid Graham, a writer and Tony Award-nominated actress, is the founder of 72nd Street Gang, a collective of dramatists who share pages, read portions of their scripts aloud and offer comments and questions in a constructive environment. Graham’s play Ruth, which was heard in the 72nd Street Gang sessions and other public readings, including in NewTACTics Off-Broadway, received development in the 2018 National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

Kelli Colaco will direct a Bay Area cast that features Cristina Anselmo, Joy Carlin, Colaco herself, Tim Fullerton, Amy Prosser, Ray Renati, Colin Thompson, Valerie Weak and Megan Wicks.

What Martha Did will be presented 7 PM Sept. 15 at 414 Mason St. at Geary St. Suite 604, Union Square, San Francisco. Donations are welcome at the door.

To reserve seats for the reading, click here.

Enid Graham is a writer and actress living in New York City. Her work includes plays: RuthWhat Martha Did, and For I Know the Plans I Have For You; screenplay: “Texas”; short stories: “Galveston,” “Blind Spot” and “Go Fish.” What Martha Did was a finalist for the 2015 National Playwrights Conference and a semi-finalist in the American Blues Festival in Chicago. Ruth was seen at the Sacred Monsters Summer Reading Series in Los Angeles and the 2017 newTACTics New Play Festival in NYC. She is a founding member of the 72nd Street Gang, a playwrights collective. As an actress, Graham has numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway credits including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (original Broadway company), Bull in a China Shop (LCT3), King Lear (Public Theatre), Honour (Tony Award nomination), and the 2017 revival of M. Butterfly at the Cort Theatre. Her television and film credits include “The Sinner,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Margaret” and “Margot at the Wedding” among others. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School.