Storytime for adults: Tim O’Connor’s Readers Theatre returns to the Miners Foundry Sunday
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
WHERE: The Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St, Nevada City
WHAT: Tim O’Connor’s Readers Theatre
WHEN: Sunday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. (doors open at 3:30 p.m.)
HOW: Tickets are $10 available at the door. Information at minersfoundry.org
A promise to keep the Readers Theatre alive continues this Sunday as Gaylie Bell-Stewart once again directs selections of short story stage readings at the Miners Foundry. While Readers Theatres became popular when large stage productions were too expensive so actors turned to minimal props and the audience’s imagination. The genre began in Nevada County over 20 years ago when the late acclaimed actor Tim O’Connor and his wife Shelia read “Love Letters” live on stage. Just before his passing in April of 2018, O’Connor turned over hundreds of short stories to fellow thespian Gaylie Bell -Stewart with the request that she continue bringing the Readers Theatre to Nevada County.
Bell-Stewart said after O’Connor passed, she approached the staff at Miners Foundry about continuing, and got the idea to put together performances within a decade. “He (O’Connor) had collected a whole bunch of books of American Short Stories. I helped him put together the lists of stories we would read, but they were mostly contemporary. After he passed away, I got an idea of putting together a reading about the history of the Foundry, the Gold Rush and all that.” While looking for stories in that era, she read some that were written a bit later and got the idea to go through the decades. “Since I love history and literature, it just seemed like a good mix and the audiences really liked the theme.”
Theme of preservation
Now appropriately monikered “Tim O’Connor’s Readers Theater,” the latest presentation will be stories from the 1940s. Bell-Stewart said the times called for safeguarding, a theme that carries through each of the stories being read this Sunday. “The writers were largely influenced by the World War (World War II). The theme seems to be preservation – things they don’t want lost.”
Drinks will be available for purchase at Miners Foundry. There will be several tables and plenty of chairs for seating. Before the performances, during intermission and after the last story, patrons will enjoy music from the 1940s.
The five stories run about 20 minutes each (some shorter) and will be shared over two hours beginning at 4 p.m.
David Lynn is new to the Readers Theatre. He will present “Patterns of Love.” Bell-Stewart said, “It’s a story about a young man who doesn’t seem to have much of a family, and he visits a family that is really close and that really care about one another and notices, as he stays with them, all these different patterns of love in a family.”
Also part of the 1940s collection is a story about a little boy whose mother died. “The Knife” will be read by another newcomer to Tim O’Connor’s Readers Theater, Donna Brown. Bell-Stewart teases the tale, “He lives with his dad and he wants his mom to come back but he’s not sure that is possible so he is praying and asking for his mom to come back and there is a misunderstanding at some point, and I don’t want to give away the end!”
Bell-Stewart said she finds readers by word of mouth or in the case of Lynn and Brown, by knowing them through the theater community.
The actor/director also called on veterans of the Readers Theatre Sandra Rockman and Bruce Kelly to perform this weekend. Rockman will be reading “The Ladder.” Bell-Stewart describes it as a story about a girl whose parents have recently divorced. “The father has married his secretary. The house is being remodeled and is a mess. The girl is 14 and doesn’t like the stepmother. The father feels like he’s made a mistake. The stepmother feels out of place. The girl does something mean. No one feels comfortable in this situation.”
Bruce Kelly will be reading “The Radio,” a John Cheever story about a couple who love music. The husband buys his wife an expensive radio that malfunctions and they begin hearing conversations of other people in their building.
The director will turn actor as she reads a story by E.B. White. Bell-Stewart said, “’The Second Tree from The Corner’ is about a man who is anxious and goes to a therapist. The therapist is trying to figure out what makes him so unhappy. And, he’s sort of looking for the meaning of life and wondering why no one knows what it is, and it suddenly comes to him, and he shares it. He figures it out and shares it.”
Bell-Stewart said, “These stories all have to do with saving conversations, saving feelings, saving nature — preserving things.”
“Storytime for Adults” as Tim O’Connor’s Readers Theatre is sometimes called, is a nice way to spend a late Sunday afternoon. Bell-Stewart said, “Tim asked me to keep this going for him and that is what I am doing. No end in sight.”
Next will be the 1950s. Bell-Stewart said to expect some great science fiction coming up in May.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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