Monday, March 20, 2023     Volume: 24, Issue: 3

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 28

Log in to Zoom and check out PCPA's virtual, contemporary play reading series, InterPlay


Originating in 2002, InterPlaythe Pacific Conservatory Theatre’s (PCPA) popular, seasonal play reading eventhas traditionally been held at Santa Maria’s Severson Theatre. Rather than postpone or cancel this year’s iteration, the company decided to adapt and expand the weekend-long event into a series of virtual offerings. 

Visit to find out more about PCPA’s InterPlay series. Admission to join each reading over Zoom is $5. The series is scheduled to begin Friday, Sept. 18, and run through Saturday, Oct. 24.

Emily Trask (left) will direct a livestreamed reading of The Agitators, as part of PCPA’s InterPlay series. Yusef Seevers (right) will play Frederick Douglass during the reading. Trask and Seevers have performed together in Shakespeare in Love, The Importance of Being Earnest, and other PCPA productions.

Between Friday, Sept. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 24, PCPA will stream live readings of six different plays through Zoom. The first program in the series, a reading of The Agitators by Mat Smart, will premiere on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. A second reading of the play will stream the following afternoon, Saturday, Sept. 19, at 1:30 p.m.

“While we would much prefer that circumstances allowed us to gather in a theater together, sharing these plays over Zoom actually provides some lovely opportunities,” PCPA Resident Artist and Literary Associate Emily Trask, director of The Agitators, told the Sun. “This format allows us to bring the immediacy and intimacy of a live theater experience to the comfort of your own home.

“It also allows us to have artists and audience members participating from all over the state and country who otherwise may not have been able to join us,” Trask added. “How cool is it that you could be experiencing a live play reading at the exact same time as someone in a different state?”

The plot of The Agitators follows the complex relationship between historical icons Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass over the span of 50 years. PCPA regulars Yusef Seevers and Polly Firestone-Walker will read as Douglass and Anthony, respectively.

Polly Firestone-Walker (seen here with Peter S. Hadres in PCPA’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) will read as Susan B. Anthony in PCPA’s upcoming livestreamed reading of The Agitators.

“I am so excited for these two indomitable actors to get to breathe life into these words and characters at such an incredibly apt time,” Trask said, who previously acted alongside both performers during The Importance of Being Earnest, Shakespeare in Love, and other PCPA productions.

Aside from directing InterPlay’s debut reading, Trask also helped curate the series’ play selection. 

“As PCPA’s literary associate, I get to have a ‘hands on’ role with InterPlay and do one of my favorite thingsread a whole bunch of plays,” said Trask, who also gets to access her passion for play reading as the host of PCPA’s Rediscovery Reading Club, another virtual program offered through Zoom.

Aside from The Agitators, other upcoming play readings in the series include Things I Know To Be True, by Andrew Bovell, Mother Road, by Octavio Solis, and Alabama Story, by Kenneth Jones. One more play will be read but has yet to be announced.

During the selection process, Trask sorted through several contemporary plays, all recently premiered, written within the last year or two or still in the early stages of workshopping, she explained.

The first program in the InterPlay series, a reading of The Agitators by Mat Smart, will premiere on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. A second reading of the play will stream the following afternoon, Saturday, Sept. 19, at 1:30 p.m.

“Some plays come from theater colleagues across the country who are workshopping a brand new script, some are suggestions from our PCPA students or alumni,” Trask said. “Some come from existing relationships with cool, new playwrights whose work we’re keeping an eye on.

“One of the perks of doing contemporary, recently written plays is that the playwrights are usually still alive,” Trask added, as each episode of InterPlay will be followed by a special talkback with the actors, directors, and occasionally the playwrights themselves. 

While narrowing down the list of plays, ultimately ending in a total of six, PCPA sought out plays that specifically represented “a diversity of voices and styles,” Trask said. Organizers of the series also had to consider how well each play would work as a script reading rather than a full-blown production. 

“From there we try to select plays that work well in a reading format—with no scenery, props, or costumes,” Trask said. “Just the story, the actors, and the audience.” 

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood wants you to unmute your Zoom window. Send comments to

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