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Huntington Theatre Company presents 5-minute audio plays

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Huntington Theatre Company presents 5-minute audio plays
Melinda Lopez (left) PHOTO: PAUL MAROTTA, and Kirsten Greenidge PHOTO: SIMON SIMARD, two of the playwrights commissioned by The Huntington Theatre Company.

The Huntington Theatre Company has commissioned and launched a series of five-minute audio plays written by local playwrights Kirsten Greenidge, Kate Snodgrass, Brenda Withers and Melinda Lopez and performed by local actors. The “Dream Boston” series features micro-works set around the city and envisioning a version of a post-pandemic future.

Available for listening on the Huntington website, each play is set at a specific Boston landmark where urbanites will some day be able to gather, and envisions a future that’s part dream, part reality. Currently, “By the Rude Bridge” by Lopez and “Overture” by Snodgrass are available to experience on the Huntington website. A new play will air every Thursday.

On July 16, Greenidge’s “The 54th in ’22” will air, performed by Brandon G. Green and Lyndsay Allyn Cox. The play is set at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on the Boston Common in 2022.

“I wanted it to be a spot that has to do with African American life, Black life in some way, black history more specifically,” says Greenidge. “My piece touches on isolation and emerging from isolation after that moment. And then what happens in the future, when we have future moments like this.”

To create these pieces, the cast, sound engineer, director and playwright met on Zoom for rehearsals. Then the actors recorded their parts on sanitized audio equipment in their own homes, and the pieces were compiled with music and sound effects into their full forms.

The mission of the project is to inspire hope during a challenging time. Greenidge says, “There’s so much to be not hopeful about at this moment, and my wish is that we can come out of these months and this time with a little more wisdom and stronger than we were.”

“Dream Boston” achieves a number of feats, including bringing theater into homes during the COVID-19 crisis, providing work for local artists and showcasing some of Boston’s historic locations. It also presents an interesting challenge for the playwrights: how to tell a story in just a few minutes and with only voices. With the visual trappings of theater taken away, audience members are able to focus on sound in a new way.

Greenidge says she was excited to take on the project, despite the challenges of this audio-based version of theater. “The radio was on almost constantly in our house and I experienced a lot of storytelling through the radio, so I was excited to try it out,” she says. True to the project title, “Dream Boston,” her own childhood dream of fronting a radio show is coming true in an unexpected way.

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