Press Room

Play-by-Play New Readings Series Announced

MONDAY, October 14, 2013
Media Contact: Heather Nowlin


Pioneer Theatre Company Announces

New Play Reading Series: “Play-by-Play”

Three New Works to Receive 2014 Readings in Salt Lake City, Utah

Pioneer Theatre Company Artistic Director Karen Azenberg and Managing Director Chris Lino announce a new play reading series for the University of Utah-based professional theatre company in Salt Lake City. Titled “Play-by-Play,” the series will provide developmental rehearsal periods for three new plays in early 2014, with the playwright working alongside a professional director and cast for a week-long residency, culminating in three public readings of each play available to theatregoers at a very modest cost.

The three plays announced for the 2014 readings are:

True Art, by Jessica Provenz, which will have its public readings on Friday, February 28 at 8:00 and Saturday, March 1 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

A Public Education, by Jeff Talbott, which will have its public readings on Friday, March 14 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, March 15 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm in the Babcock Theatre.

Alabama Story, by Kenneth Jones, which will have its public readings on Friday, April 4 at 8:00 pm and Saturday, April 5 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm in the Dumke Auditorium of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

“Nothing is more important to the long-term vitality of American theatre as an art form than the nurturing of new voices and new work,” said PTC Artistic Director Karen Azenberg. “I couldn’t be more pleased to announce Pioneer Theatre Company’s commitment to developing three new plays this coming year. In each case, we will fly the playwright to Salt Lake City to work with a director of his/her choice and a cast of actors drawing from our resident pool of talent and beyond. The week-long residency will allow the playwrights to experience their plays in rehearsal, to refine and improve their writing in the room, and to hear an audience’s response — prompting the writers to further assess the intentions and impact of their work. I think it’s also vitally important to experience these plays in an intimate setting — rather than on our expansive mainstage — where the actors and audience are very close to each other, allowing a focus on, as Hamlet said, the ‘words, words, words.’

“In order to further focus on the script and keep costs down, the readings will be performed without a set or costumes.” Azenberg explained, “These are bare-bones developmental presentations allowing the PTC audience a ‘first look’ at new works in progress. Theatre-going should always prompt conversation, and we’re certain that this inaugural season of Play-by-Play readings and talkbacks will help lead to better plays that will find a wider stage in American theatre and more engaged playgoers here in Salt Lake City.”

Adds PTC Managing Director Chris Lino, “Some of the most wonderful experiences in the theatre come when you walk into a theatre and see a new play you know nothing about, and it just takes your breath away. The excitement of that experience can be absolutely electrifying, but there is also an element of risk, because you know so little about the play you’re going to see. Everyone knows what they’re getting when they buy a ticket to Les Misérables, but a new play is, by its nature, a complete unknown.

“We want to make it easy for people who love theatre to take that leap of faith to see new work by making these new play readings very affordable. By doing them as readings, with no sets or costumes, we can invite our audience to take a risk with us at a very modest cost–roughly the cost of a movie ticket,” Lino said.

Current PTC season ticket holders may purchase tickets to the readings for $5.00 per ticket. Non-season ticket holders may purchase tickets to individual readings for $10.00 or may purchase all three readings in advance at the same time for $25.00. All tickets are general admission.

Individual tickets may be purchased through the PTC Box Office by calling 801-581-6961 or online at https://tickets.pioneertheatre.org.

A pass for all three readings may also be purchased; that pass must be purchased by calling the PTC Box Office at 801-581-6961.

Sponsors of Play-by-Play include Sandi Behnken, Lee and Audrey Hollaar, Mike and Jan Pazzi, The University of Utah Department of Theatre, and The Utah Museum of Fine Arts.


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Inaugural new play reading series


True Art: Friday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 1 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
A Public Education: Friday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 15 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Alabama Story: Friday, April 4 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 5 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.


True Art and A Public Education readings will be held in the Babcock Theatre, located in the lower level of Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112


Alabama Story reading will be held in the Dumke Auditorium of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, at 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112


  • $5 each for current PTC Season Ticket Holders
  • $10 each for general public, or all 3 for $25


Box Office 801-581-6961
Open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Mon.–Fri.


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An awestruck art history graduate lands a dream job at a world-class museum. But when she questions the authenticity of a newly discovered masterpiece, she finds herself swimming with sharks in the form of art curators, trustees, and art dealers. This chance of a lifetime quickly turns into a fight for her ideals, her reputation, and her very future.

Playwright Jessica Provenz recently stepped into the world of politics serving as Director of Policy on Anthony Weiner’s New York City 2013 mayoral campaign.

Her plays include “A Wake on Chappaquiddick” developed with Amy Ryan at Cape Cod Theatre Project, Irish Rep, and New Georges; “Truth or Consequences” workshopped with T.R. Knight at the DR2; “Better than Chocolate” directed by Matthew Penn at Berkshire Playwrights Lab; “Andromeda” at Juilliard and Berkshire Playwrights Lab; and “Sweet Perfume” at The Barrow Group. Jessica is a two-time recipient of the Lecomte du Noüy Award for emerging playwrights. She was Playwright-in-Residence at The Juilliard School and a graduate of Northwestern University.


Luke Paxton is a high-school math teacher and the new guy in the faculty room.  He’s ready to teach, but completely unprepared for the other teachers, not to mention the nasty things somebody’s been posting on the web. Welcome to high school, where an education comes in ways you can never see coming.

Playwright Jeff Talbott graduated with honors from the Yale School of Drama. His play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011 and was produced off-Broadway by MCC Theater; it also received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for New American Play in 2012. He lives in New York City.


In 1959 Alabama, a segregationist state senator wants a controversial children’s book purged from the state library, but a fearless librarian refuses, putting both of their worlds at risk in a time of extraordinary social change. Inspired by real events, Alabama Story is a highly theatrical new play about tests of character in the Deep South of the Imagination.

Playwright Kenneth Jones is based in New York City and is also a lyricist and librettist. His works for the stage include the playAlabama Story (seen in a 2013 Southern Writers’ Project reading directed by Karen Azenberg at Alabama Shakespeare Festival); book and lyrics for the musicals Voice of the City (music by Elaine Chelton) and Naughty/Nice (music by Gerald Stockstill); as well as songs with composers Roger Anderson, Marek Norman, Brad Ross and more. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and the advanced BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. His work as a journalist includes 15 years as a writer, associate editor and managing editor at Playbill.com and 10 years as a theatre reporter and critic for The Detroit News.