Rare staged reading hitting Sonoma Arts Live!

‘Only Some of God’s Children, or Mississippi Magnolias,’ a newly created work.|

The superb local theater group, Sonoma Arts Live!, is presenting a staged reading of “Only Some of God’s Children, or Mississippi Magnolias” on April 1 at Sonoma Community Center.

The play is a newly created work written by Paris Crayton lll. It has a cast of six, and lists Dr. Geeta Malik as the executive director. This important work was the second place winner for the Del Shores Foundation Writers Search, an outfit that seeks “to find and facilitate the development of new Southern queer artistic voices.”

The play is set two days after the civil rights march on Washington, D.C., in 1963. In the wake of that important moment in American history, “Only Some of God’s Children, or Mississippi Magnolias” has two families reconsidering their ties to the South.

“I like complex plays and there is so much to appreciate in this new work,” Malik wrote. “It deals with universal themes such as enduring friendship, choosing a place to call home and protecting one’s family. The writing is excellent, and the dialogue is so believable.”

Actors Sam Minnifield, Aaron Royce Jones, Lindsay John, Lila Jackson, Jasmine Williams and Keene Hudson will be on stage for this unique performance.

As mentioned, this will be a staged reading. This unusual style of performance is a rehearsed read-through of a script, with the actors not off-book (the point where the actors no longer need the written script in hand).

Additionally, the stage directions may be read aloud from the wings. There are typically no props, sets or costumes during a staged reading, adding to the important role the audience must assume to enjoy the event.

Being in the audience and watching a staged reading is a little like being in the kitchen of a fine restaurant while the delicious meals are being prepared. The flavors, textures, colors and scents are present, but the meal is not plated for presentation. The world-class, finished product is not yet visible, but one can sense the tremendous potential.

Staged readings are often performed in less than ideal settings: private homes, rehearsal studios, even parking lots. This presentation, executed live on the Rotary Stage in Andrews Hall, is at least somewhat polished.

“We are sharing a new work with an audience in a relaxed but theatrical setting,” said Jaime Love, artistic director of Sonoma Arts Live! and Sonoma’s 2023 Treasure Artist.

Tickets for this important evening of theater will be available at the door. Show time is 7 p.m. Playwright Paris Crayton III will be in attendance for a Q&A after the performance.

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