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Come hear a 'Nightingale' at Readers Theatre

Play depicts life on the British home front during WWII


All wars are fought on two fronts — one where the bullets fly and the shells explode and another where the soldiers’ families wonder and worry about their loved ones bearing arms.

“And a Nightingale Sang” tells the story of the latter front, Newcastle, England, during World War II, says Joni Tabler, who will direct the Readers Theatre version of the play for Sandy Actors Theatre.

First produced in 1977, the play tells the story of the Stott family as they cope with life during history’s most storied conflict.

“Our audiences at Readers Theatre tend to be older in age,” Tabler says. “I think the nostalgic feel of the play will resonate with many of our audience members.”

Readers Theatre productions consist of actors reading on stage from a play’s script, with no props or staging. “Nightingale” will be read from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at Gresham Chapel & Evening Event Center, 257 S.E. Roberts Ave. Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Katie Mortemore

Themes still echo

“The play deals with many contemporary themes — love and loss, a family in the midst of dysfunction and a time of crisis, war and its effects,” Tabler adds. “But it also finds the humor amidst the madness.

“Many will be able to sympathize with Helen, the main character and her struggle to find happiness,” she adds. “Young audience members will identify with Eric and Joyce, the young soldier and his sweetheart.”

Speaking of Helen, that role is played by Katie Mortemore, who says her character is of the type that can be found in other plays.

“I find it interesting that no matter what kind of genre or media, the archetypal older-sister-who-knows-best-and-doesn’t-have-any-interested-men is always identifiable,” she says.

George Farquhar plays the family patriarch.

“I was born in Scotland and I remember hearing my granny and my parents singing around the house all the time,” he says. “My character sings the songs that I remember hearing as a kid in Scotland and in Missouri.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Robertson plays Andie, the family’s grandfather.

“I like the Readers Theatre format because it allows for a more intense concentration on language and character,” he says, a point echoed by Farquhar.

“Reader’s Theatre is less time consuming, but it requires the actors to do with their voices what a full staging does with costumes, props, a set and movement,” Robertson says. “So in some ways it is more difficult.”

Interestingly, Tabler says “Nightingale” is the kind of play suited to a stripped down stage even when it is presented in a full production.

“I’ve seen this play produced with very minimal sets, so the Readers Theatre environment should lend itself well to the reading itself,” she says.

If you go

WHO: Readers Theatre

PRESENTS: ‘And a Nightingale Sang’

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19

WHERE: Gresham Chapel & Evening Event Center, 257 S.E. Roberts Ave.

COST: $9

INFO: sandyactorstheatre.org

MORE: Readers Theatre needs a coordinator for next year. If interested, contact Sharon Rindt at sharonrindt@gmail.com, or Joni Tabler at jonica_t@hotmail.com.

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