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New staged readings abound in two play festivals
coming to Ann Arbor.
Special to the Jewish News
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real estate executive, an actor,
a market researcher and a
retired substance abuse thera-
pist have something in common that
soon will take them — and many oth-
ers — to Ann Arbor. They all have
written plays juried into programs of
staged readings to introduce new
Steven Shapiro, a New Jersey busi-
nessman, and Daniel Roth, a Metro
Detroit actor, will be represented in
the first Michigan Theatre Festival,
which runs Wednesday-Sunday, June
8-12, at three Ann Arbor venues. A
coalition of nine theaters from around
the state will host 12 plays.
Shapiro's The Journey of Nathan
Strauss is an identity mystery that has
to do with the Holocaust. Roth's Two
Men in a Box is a philosophical puzzler
about places in which people find
Mark Harvey Levine, a Los Angeles
researcher, and Joe Feinstein, a West
Bloomfield retiree, will have short
works in Play by Play 2005; a
marathon fund-raiser for the
Heartlande Theatre Company at Ann
Arbor's Performance Network.
Between noon and midnight
Saturday, June 11, audiences will see
some two dozen new works, including
Levine's romantic comedy The Kiss,
which tests friendship, and Feinstein's
end-of-life drama Oh, Brothers!, which
has to do with realizing dreams.
Michigan Theatre Festival
"I've made some changes to my play as
a result of its being presented earlier
this season by the Jewish Ensemble
Theatre," says Shapiro, 52, again invit-
ed by JET as the company becomes a
Michigan Theatre Festival participant.
"The feedback after the reading gave
me some ideas for the structure of the
Shapiro, who has another work
being presented at about the same
time in Nantucket, Mass., tells a story
of deception and reconciliation as he
introduces a psychiatrist who treats
only Holocaust victims. It will be per-
formed at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday,
June 12, at Performance Network.
%want my works to bring audi-
ences to a portal for their emotions,"
says Shapiro, who majored in psychol-
ogy at the City University of New
York and feels the experience of work-
ing with JET put him in touch more
closely with his Jewish roots.
"I've been blessed because I don't
have to earn a living by writing, and
I'm going to leave real estate in
January to write full time. I already
have three ideas in mind : "
Roth, 24, representing the Planet
Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, intro-
duces an existential comedy about
conventions. It will be read at 11 p.m.
Wednesday, June 12, at the
"I wanted to get more people think-
ing," says Roth, who has been cast in
productions staged by JET, the
Bonstelle Theatre and other local com-
panies. "I think writing it helped me
Roth, who knew he wanted a the-
ater career about the time of his bar
mitzvah at the Birmingham Temple,
went on to perform in high school
plays and major in drama at Wayne
State University in Detroit. He took
classes and did some radio work in
"I think writing this play is part of
the evolution of my theater career,"
Other theaters hosting plays include
Rochester's Meadow Brook Theatre,
Lansing's BoarsHead Theatre, Detroit's
Plowshares Theatre and the
Williamston Theatre Project.
The companies are inviting mem-
bers of the audience to take part in
talkback sessions so writers can learn
about the impressions they made.
Viewers also can attend wrap parties at
the end of each day's programs to
meet performers and those working
behind the scenes.
Play By Play
In Play by Play, Levine's short work
will be presented on June 11 between
4 and 5 p.m. and between 11:20 p.m.
and midnight. Feinstein's piece will be
staged between noon and 12:50 p.m.
and between 7:30 and 8:20 p.m.