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Playwright coming to Jasper, readers needed

Habitat for the Arts will offer a script salon in the Jasper Library and Cultural Centre starting 7 p.m. March 19. | File photo

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter |

Habitat for the Arts will offer a script salon in the Jasper Library and Cultural Centre starting 7 p.m. March 19 that will feature a playwright from Edmonton.

Actors (readers) will be given a script and a role the day before the salon, and then come together and read it the following day with the playwright.

Habitat director Marianne Garrah noted in an email that they were looking for three readers.

“You’re not auditioning—you’re reading. You’re in one room with the playwright,” Garrah said.

“It’s sort of like workshopping a new play except with the playwright being there through the process. No line memorization, similar to reader’s theatre. You do not need to be a professional actor or have had hours of on-stage experience.”

The salon is where the playwright gets the opportunity to hear their script for the first time, and the audience is invited to join the evening of the reading and later ask questions.

“The talk back is an important part of the salon,” said playwright Katherine Koller, whose play titled “Abby’s Place” will be the focus of the script salon.

Koller has been a playwright for 30 years and has a multitude of experience in the field, starting with a CBC radio drama for national broadcast.

When she moved to Edmonton, she did productions for the annual Fringe Festival, doing promotions and finding directors, the cast and the designers.

“It’s the whole way of learning the craft of putting on a play. It kind of ate my summers up.”

Since 2014, Koller has been co-producing a monthly new play reading series.

Koller described how 40 to 80 people gather for a script salon in Edmonton each month 

“In the time we’ve been running, over half the scripts we’re read have gone on to full production elsewhere.

“We’re pretty proud of that. Full production involves many people—it’s a big deal. It means a theatre company somewhere has decided to produce that play.”

In Jasper, people will be able to ask Koller questions, give comments about what they liked or ask about something they want to know about, and she will go back to the table with the feedback and revise her play.

Garrah said she is looking forward to the salon.

“It’s an interactive evening of actors reading in character and a playwright hearing their words and an audience being entertained all in one.”

She echoed Koller’s thoughts about the value of script salons.

“This is how plays get out into the bigger scheme of things,” she said.

“It has to start somewhere. It would be nice to know that it was in Jasper and that we were able to contribute to that.”To register for the script salon, email by March 16.

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