Best part: Every Monday night through August you can attend a staged play reading.
Better part: It’s free.
The Summer Theatre Fest Reading Series will play out in theaters stretching from West Palm Beach all the way to Key West, including Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage, Manalapan’s Plaza Theatre and West Palm Beach’s Palm Beach Dramaworks.
“This is only our second year doing it,” explains Andie Arthur, the executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, which produces the series. “We have so many great playwrights right here in our back yard. It’s great to showcase them. Some of [the plays] have had a bit of development, but many of them have never had anyone near them before.”
First up is Fort Lauderdale’s Michael McKeever, whose play “Finding Mona Lisa” gets a reading Monday, June 2 at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
“It’s about the ‘Mona Lisa’ in its simplest form,” McKeever says. “I started doing research on it and discovered in 1911 it was literally missing for over two years. It spent the first 50 years hanging in a bath house in France. This great piece of art was literally in a bath house being smothered with steam. I thought, ‘There’s a story in there.’ There’s several stories actually…there are six short plays [in ‘Finding Mona Lisa’] takes place over the course of 400 years at different stages of the painting’s life. It’s about the people who it has impacted and who have been impacted by it.”
Even though “Finding Mona Lisa” has had a staged reading before at Boca Raton’s Lynn University and this July will be “workshopped” at a theater festival in Phoenix, McKeever says he’s looking forward to the feedback from Monday night.
“The audience up in Boca is very different from the audience we’ll get in Miami,” he explains. These kinds of workshops are gifts.”
And Arthur says that the inaugural year in 2013 showed that “…there’s an audience out there who really enjoy it. There’s a small group of die-hards, particularly in Palm Beach County, that go to see everything. It’s good to know there’s an audience that craves the development process.”
The Summer Theatre Fest Reading Series starts Monday June 2 at 7:30 p.m. with “Finding Mona Lisa” at Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. For the rest of the series’ schedule, go to SouthFloridaTheatre.com and click on “Summer Theatre Fest.”.