Tonight I attended The Dark Room at Cleveland Public Theatre in The Church Building. For those of you who are not familiar with The Dark Room, you should be. It is a blast, and artistically feels like stuffing my face with Cassata cake and leaving fully satisfied.

As described on the recent email posted on NEohioPAL, “The Dark Room is a place where writers take center stage and their work has a chance to grow. The Dark Room is an ongoing event held on the second Tuesday of each month. The Dark Room affords emerging and veteran playwrights the space and resources to develop new works. It offers a venue to workshop plays, novels, poems, or any other written work in a supportive, yet critical environment.”

So I arrive at the suggested 7:15 pm check-in. This is when writers and actors arrive and indicate whether they want to be considered as actors for the evening, or present their material to be read.  Writers can bring up to 10 pages of work to be performed by them, or have the available actors jump in and bring them to life in a cold reading. Since I was an available actor, I was lucky enough to be included in one of the readings.

At 7:30 p.m., guiding and facilitating the evening were the hosts Mindy Childress Herman and John Busser. The original Dark Room was co-created in 2005 by the Cleveland Theatre Collective (now gone, but not forgotten) and the Cleveland Public Theatre. Herman became involved in 2007, with Busser joining in 2009. So these two phenomenal artists are the ringleaders of this dynamic evening of exploration and creation.

Tonight there were 3 pieces that were read. The first, a short play by John Busser regarding “Law and Order,” was a very funny look at how just a simple traffic ticket triggers the infiltration of media abuse. Second was the fabulous Nina McCollum, reading excerpts from her kick-ass blog www.Rockandrollmama.wordpress.com. And the third, in which I got a chance to read, was written by Greg Mandryk called “Shut Up! I’m Rich!” This was about a jerk corporate boss who is small on morals and big on libido. It was great to hear laughter on all three pieces.

If you are interested in being a featured writer at a future Dark Room, please send a 20-30 page script along with a short bio, cast requirements, descriptions of the characters and a synopsis of the piece. Writers wishing to present during the open session portion of Dark Room may submit shorter works, up to ten pages, in advance of the event or bring them on the night of the event. Open session readings are first come; first serve until all slots have been allotted. All submissions should be made to Mindy Herman at herman.mindy@gmail.com  or to John Busser at jpbusser@gmail.com.

The next Dark Room experience is May 13th, 2014. That gives you plenty of time to hit the writing block.

As a bonus, there is free beer and soda. But, don’t be shy about making a donation to keep The Dark Room lit. (See what I did there?)

Kevin Joseph Kelly

4/8/14