The Black Box of Asbury Park and The Collective Art Tank present a reading of
WHEN: Sunday, May 18, 2:00 PM
WHERE: Arttank, 529 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park
ADMISSION: $7 Suggested Donation
When the son of a local deputy tries to protect his older sister from a bully, how far can he go to protect himself and his family if the threat of danger is not imminent? Using Shakespeare and the Bible as guidance, the boy first has to figure out if the threat is real. Has the bully actually done anything to hurt the boy? Or his sister? And who can he turn to for help when there is no one to turn to?
“When I was a kid, I was in the park with my father, who was off playing tennis. Suddenly, this boy—older than me—pinned me down, sat his knees on my arms, and spit in my face,” says playwright Kozak. “There was nothing I could do. I can remember it clear as day. It’s still a fresh wound, thirty years later.” The play examines whether the solution to bullying is to do nothing and hope it goes away or to react. “One of the challenges of the play,” says Kozak, “is that it is about children dealing with abuse, which is not a comfortable thing for audiences to watch.
In this reading, we are having the children played by actors in their late-teens or early-twenties, which will give a little bit of distance to the action and hopefully allow an audience to think more clearly about the situation, instead of just reacting from a place of disgust.”
The cast includes college theatre students Mel Ridgway (currently at NYU) and PJ Benson (currently at Montclair State University), both of whom were in Black Box’s 2013 hit 0 Days Since Last Miracle. “I’ve done one previous reading of this play,” says Benson, “years ago. The play has gotten a lot fuller, deeper, and darker since then.” Ridgway adds, “It’s a little unsettling to see children dealing with these issues so directly. I think having the kids played by older actors—almost like their older selves—gives it a cool theatricality.”
Black Box, which has undergone various changes in leadership in the past two years, has refocused itself on the development of new plays through its New Play Initiative, as well as through using full productions as a means to help local playwrights not only gain more visibility but also refine their plays through seeing and solving practical problems through staging their work. Kozak runs the New Play Initiative. “We have monthly writers’ groups, one for writers of all genres, and one specifically for playwrights and screenwriters. Scaredy Cat and Lady Miss has spent some time being incubated in the playwriting forum, but this is the first time the entire thing is being read in its current form.”