A little over a year ago, local actor, writer and director Ron Hasson launched a new initiative that would help playwrights see their early works come to fruition with a first-read. Page to Stage Unlimited began with hopes to encourage more original productions in Wilmington and give writers an opportunity to hear and see their words come to life in order to properly edit and revise scripts for full production.
“Ron assembled a group of actors here and shared his vision for the group with us,” says Pam Smith, who helps wrangle the once-a-month reads at Cameron Art Museum on the third Thursday each month. “There were 10 to 12 of us initially, and now our group has over 100 members.”
Thus far they have hosted at least (if not more than) 40 readings—a few have been screenplays as well. They’ve seen quite a few once-acts make it to the stage as full productions at Browncoat Pub and Theatre, including Chase Harrison’s “Wendigo” and Josh Bailey’s “Greedy.”
“Both as an actor and as a writer, it’s a great atmosphere of encouragement and fun,” Smith says. “The process and support in our group is constructive and nurturing. Ron’s insight and talent have built a marvelous climate for growth.”
This Thursday Page to Stage will host a reading of multiple works, as they pay tribute to “Patriotism in America.” Irene Muccia-Slater will have her piece, “Dear John,” read by Lily Nicole. The monologue talks about the first female motorcycle cop.
“This is a real chance for local talent to polish and shine,” Muccia-Slater says, “a chance for us to be our own advocates. I have a lot of film, theater, voice-over, and print [work] under my belt. I am an actor, writer, screenwriter, and producer, but I learn something every day from these talented compatriots and that’s great, because when you stop learning, you stop living, and it’s great fun! My feeling is, and always has been, if it’s not fun, then you are doing something wrong.”
Just as well, Muccia-Slater will read founder Hasson’s latest works-in-progress, “Home of the Best People in the World.” Hasson has written and rewritten the play numerous times already.
“The plot follows a group of friends on a sleep-away field-trip meeting up in the neighborhood of host families capturing some rare late-night freedom,” Hasson describes. “Eventually, we learn the characters in the reading form an unspoken triangle, as the gay character allows the hunky guy to tease and toy with sexuality, and the gay guy’s best friend instinctively feels the need to protect him from a fruitless pursuit, offering up an innocent, guileless love as a superior substitute.”
Hasson revised the play from four acts to three, and chose for the read this particular moment at the end of act one because it’s the most crucial to the play’s structure. It pulsates the momentum of act two’s tumultuous dream/war.
“We’ve already had a workshop almost two years ago, and this is the kind of play that could go up at any time,” Hasson tells, “as soon as space and time are convenient.”
Hasson’s impressive and prolific output has seen five different plays in progress in front of a Page to Stage audience. “A one-act I co-wrote with Craig Kittner is the sixth play I’ve brought to an event, and it is still the only one that has been produced,” he says of “Zero,” which debuted at Browncoat in “Amazing Wonder Stories,” which featured multiple one-acts by local writers. “Starting Page to Stage has made it difficult to find time to complete my own work, but it is totally worth it.”
As far as what’s ahead in the group’s evolution, Hasson says the partnership with CAM and their liaison, Daphne Holmes, is a cherished one. “With Cameron we’re able to start people down that path,” he tells. “As interest grows, we might have a new full-length show up each month. That’s what I’d like to see.”