Brandon Monokian is a theatre artist who works in the New York City and New Jersey area. For the Page to Stage guest blog series, Brandon will document the process of bringing three works from the page to the stage – all in the Princeton Public Library.

by Brandon Monokian

Photo courtesy of Lis Willis.

Like life, nothing is ever perfect in theatre. You rehearse, you take it as far as it can go and then it takes on a new life every evening before an audience. But it’s never perfect. That’s the blessing and the curse of it all; there will always be more to strive for, affording freshness and constant new discoveries, but at the same time we as theatre artists know that perfection will always be something just out of reach. With play readings perfection is far out of reach, but in a way have always been more appealing to me. I like to think of them as theatrical sonograms. You get a raw glimpse of this beautiful being in it’s gestation period; a special and wonderful phenomenon. I once saw a moderately successful actress on a discussion panel talk about how she wouldn’t “do” readings anymore. May I never be that frigid and horrid of a theatre person.

The Arabian Nights affords a unique challenge in that it is comprised of multiple different stories, multiple plays if you will, each needing to be researched and thought about as carefully as if they were their own full length theatrical production due to the rich and complex history behind each story. These kinds of endeavors in a reading setting can admittedly so spread a performance ensemble a bit thin, but the experience it provides is undoubtably a thrilling challenge, requiring each creative participant to take gigantic leaps of faith long before they may be ready to even take their first step.

Lis Willis, who is performing in her third Page to Stage reading shared some thoughts with me about the process and about the series as a whole.

“Rehearsals are going great, which they kind of have to for it to work since it’s such an ensemble driven show. You really need to just jump in and trust each other. But everyone seems to love it just as much as I do.”

She continued on by expressing her love for what bringing these staged readings to Libraries can do for the community; “To be able to provide free theatre is really cool, because I never knew about the opportunities to enjoy and watch free theatre when I was younger, so to be able to bring that to people is great.”

The Arabian Nights will play Friday August 10th, 7 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library.

Select acting credits include Love Is in the Air (dir. Jeremy Bloom, The Cell), Shlemiel the First (dir. David Gordon, NYC Skirball Center, Alexander Kasser Theatre), How to Build a Forest (PearlDamour, The Kitchen) and PastTENSE (dir. Robert Woodruff). Select directing credits include Revolutionary Readings (tour) and the Page to Stage series at the Princeton Public Library. Monokian is a three time director of The Vagina Monologues as a part of the V Day campaign. Productions he has directed have starred Amy Warren (“August: Osage County”), Briella Calafiore (“Jerseylicious”), Jessica Romano (“Glam Fairy”), Elaine Bromka (“Uncle Buck”), Suzzanne Douglas (“How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “The Parent ‘Hood”), and Stephaine Roth Haberle (“Phaedra Backwards”). As a writer his theatre journalism work has appeared on “Blog-O-Zines” Insite and Culture Vultures. Staged readings of his original plays Fuckin Breadcrumbs and Sticks, Stones & Other Weapons have been produced at New York’s TADA! Theater and Montclair State University respectively. For more info head to facebook.com/brandonmonokian or follow him on twitter @brandonmonokian

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