Every year, through HART Theatre's Page to Stage program, a local playwright's work is selected to be brought to life on the stage. The production was well received when Hillsboro audiences were shown a sample scene for it last year.
"36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations" brings a contemporary and unique spin on the stories of the lives of young adults living life. The work comes from the mind of Brianna Barrett, a Portland storyteller.
"It's a very novel concept," said HART co-artistic director Paul Roder. "And it features some witty, snappy dialogue."
What makes the play so special is that the script is non-gender specific. The dialogue was written in a way so that actors can switch roles from performance to performance and, although the lines are the same, the context of the situations and conversations between characters changes depending on who lands in what role.
A scene happening between two straight men, for example, could be very different than the same scene happening between two lesbian women.
"The play makes for a fascinating study about our assumptions of people and gender roles," said Roder.
Audiences can expect to see younger people on stage navigating through relationships and other social circumstances, especially when it comes to dating apps, like OkCupid or Tinder. Barrett does a great job of connecting the individuals throughout the play, Roder said.
The production features a cast of eight — Skye McLaren Walton, Cecilia Shroyer, Jean Christensen, Blaine Vincent III, Les Ico, Ami Ericson, Kaitlynn Baugh, and Rachel Thomas.
The Page to Stage program started six years ago, around the time Roder came to HART. Anywhere from six to ten scripts from local artists are selected and put through a process. Last October, audiences were shown sample scenes from some of the works, which are designed to give viewers an idea of the characters and overall plays. There are always many factors to consider when making the final decision on what to green light.
"We take the feedback, we have our own point system [to] get a sense of what the audience finds interesting," said Roder. "And of course, we have our own opinions; we have to think about the producibility of things."
Barrett's script was overwhelmingly preferred by the audiences because of their interest in her characters.
Carl Dahlquist, a HART veteran, is directing this year's Page to Stage production. He also directed last year's.
"This is a nice change of pace for HART," said Roder. "Of course, we'll always do familiar things, but we also like to do things that are fresh and innovative, and this play will generate more than enough interest."
Because every performance will be different, people are encouraged to come back to see the different roles play out. Those who have seen the play and come back for another round will receive half price admission.
"36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations" will run from July 7 to 23, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday performances at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $12 for students and youth, and can be purchased at www.hart-theatre.org.
HART will host its 4th annual barbecue at its 185 S.W. Washington St. location on July 22. A 5:30 p.m. performance will be preceded by food and a silent auction. Tickets are $30 for individuals and $50 for couples, available online at www.hart-theatre.org.