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Drew Student’s Play to Get a Virtual Staged Reading

Erin Gruodis-Gimbel C’22 will receive valuable feedback from theatre company

August 2020 – Thanks to a bit of social media scrolling, Drew University junior Erin Gruodis-Gimbel will have her play-in-process read on the virtual stage later this month.

This summer, the theatre arts major was taking a procrastination break from writing her play Abraham and God Play Ping Pong when she saw a Facebook notification from the Washington, DC–based Walking Shadow Readers Theatre, calling for submissions of plays to be read on their virtual stage.

“I submitted on a whim,” said Gruodis-Gimbel. “I didn’t think anything would come of it because the play is in the youngest stage of infancy possible and because I’m in the infancy of my career, but they took it!”

We talked with Gruodis-Gimbel about the upcoming experience and how she got here.

What will a developmental reading be like in a virtual setting?

The developmental process is the most ideal part of theatre to do virtually—there wouldn’t be much physical movement, so the logistics won’t be too different. The hardest thing is that the play is a comedy, so by not having a live audience, I miss out learning if a joke lands based on the audience’s reaction.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

To hear talented actors read the script so I can figure out how fix it! It’s so important for me to hear what other people have to say, because it reminds me that my experience as the writer is not the only perspective that’s out there. I can’t improve without other people.

Are there any Drew professors who mentored you?

I audited Professor Rosemary McLaughlin’s advanced playwriting course in my first semester at Drew, which really lit a fire under me. She also heads our Plays In Process (PIP) program, which gives students weekly opportunities to have their work performed in a live staged reading. And Professor Lisa Brenner advised me to “let your gut lead you to what you truly want to create,” which helped me muster the nerve to start writing.

Final thoughts?

This reading has made me realize just how many people out there want to support young artists like me, and because of their support, it has become a more tangible goal to work in the theatre as a profession.

The reading will take place on Friday, August 28, at 8 p.m. on the Walking Shadow Readers Theatre’s YouTube Channel.

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