In 2005 a group of actors, writers and directors started to meet to read plays, out of which Presence Theatre was created. Ten years on and the Reading Group was reformed in early 2015. Its ethos remains the same; for actors, writers and directors to discover and enjoy great works of dramatic literature.
Writers whose work the new Reading Group has looked at include Jon Fosse, N.F. Simpson, P.O. Enquist, Franz Xaver Krötz, Henrik Ibsen, Samuel Beckett, Fredrik Brattberg, Joseph Chaikin, Sam Shepard, Knut Hamsun, Eugene O' Neill, Griselda Gambaro, Hannah Moscovitch, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Nis-Momme Stockmann, M. H. Hallum, Erling Jepsen, Michael Bhim, Jón Atli Jónasson, Sebastian Thierry, Anna Ellinor Sundström, David Mamet, Bo Hr. Hansen, David Watson, Ben Ockrent, Nick Payne, Sean Buckley, Joel Horwood, Harold Pinter, Alexandra Wood, Alfonso Sastre, David Hirson, Simon Stephens, Alice Birch, Andri Snær Magnason, Þorleifur Örn Arnarson, Esteve Soler, Chris Hannan, Ayfer Tunç, Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson, Bertolt Brecht, Bola Agbaje, Trevor Griffiths, Maya Arad, Alexander Blok, Wallace Stevens, Gregory Motton, Lope de Vega, Franz Kafka, Christian Lollike, Stan Francisco, José Sanchis Sinisterra, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Edward Bond, Maria Milisavljevic, Charles Reznikoff, Laura Naumann, Arne Lygre, David Greig, Maria Tryti Vennerød, Wolfram Lotz, Jussi Moila, Caryl Churchill, Henrik Szklany, Jonas Gardell, Frank O' Hara, Alexander Vvedensky, Snoo Wilson, John van Druten, Daniil Kharms, Nikolai Zabolotsky, Chris New and Charlotte Keatley.
In April 2019 Kirsten Hazel Smith visited the to have read her draft translation of Unwritten Letters by Estelle Savasta, in process towards a potential production at The Bush; in June 2018 Simon Stephens attended the group to hear the current draft of his new play Ria, prior to its submission to the commissioning theatre; In June 2017 Charlotte Keatley brought along a working draft of her latest play, as did Chris New in May 2017. In February 2016 Simon Stephens attended the group as we read and discussed his early play Country Music and in May and November 2015 we welcomed Gwen Mackeith, translator of the Argentine writer Griselda Gambaro.
The Deep by Jón Atli Jónasson, Now That's What I Call Music by David Watson, The Frugal Horn by Nick Payne and The Returnings by Fredrik Brattberg that were discovered at the group have all gone on to be performed as staged readings.
In our usual Holborn venue (see below) or - currently - via Zoom the readings are entirely for ourselves (usually 12 - 14 attendees on and off throughout the day - all professional working actors and industry guests, including directors, with the occasional writer to hear their new script being read. There is no audience, and scripts are forwarded for downloading to devices 48 hours or so before - and with a small number of paper copies available on the day (for 'in person' sessions). No prep is required, in fact the contrary, the spontaneous discovery and realisation being all; and with a general principal of 'fair gos' for all as far as possible across each script (so roles switched and shared around between each scene etc).
Over the last year we have read neglected classics, international new translations, new UK plays (sometimes with writers in attendance) and we have many more discoveries and rediscoveries planned for the year ahead.
In terms of financial support for the refreshments offered (tea/coffee/surprisingly good biscuits etc), the room provision and all the organisation is a (discretional) contribution of £3 on the day (by cash or card). Not bad for a full days participatory entertainment!
WHILE COVID RESTRICTIONS REMAIN IN PLACE ALL SESSIONS ARE CONDUCTED VIA ZOOM.
Once you are on the invitation list, you get emailed invitations around 10 days prior to each monthly session (usually taking place on the final Friday of each month 11am - 5pm, at out current venue in Holborn: the IES Centre, 5 Bloomsbury Pl, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 2QP (nearest tubes Holborn - 5 mins away - and Russell Square - 8 mins away. Just off Southampton Row, with a Costa and a Cafe Nero almost opposite)
If you are a working actor or industry professional who would like to participate please contact Colin Ellwood at firstname.lastname@example.org