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Actor John Gentry (in hat), playwright Richard Warren (top) and actor-director Mark De Michele of the New Works Festival.

Play 'n' Talk

So you're a live-theater nut, and you've seen Vampire Lesbians of Sodom at Planet Earth and Born Yesterday at Theater Works, and you've had dinner at Murder at Greystone Manor, and you think you've exhausted every option in town this lean summer season. You needn't despair and start searching your TV Guide for reruns. Dramatic C rations arrive this weekend. At 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through August 12, Phoenix Theatre presents its third annual New Works Festival, staged readings of brand-spanking-pristine plays by local scribes. The price is right for these theatrical test drives, too: a suggested $5 donation.

The series kicks off on Friday, July 21, and Saturday, July 22, with Jack Heifner's Dwarf Tossing, a blackly satirical look at "political incorrectness, sexual politics, show business and the damage such madness can inflict when unleashed on unsuspecting little people," directed by Thomas Caruso. The Friday-night performance is to be preceded by a "Meet the Playwrights" fund raiser at 6 p.m.; a $25 donation is requested for this event.

The fest continues for the next three weekends. On Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29, the selection is Branded, a comedy in which a half-dozen contemporary cowboys present a skewed history of the State of Arizona, conceived and directed by PT artistic director Michael Barnard.

Brock Norman Brock's Here Is Monster follows on Friday, August 4, and Saturday, August 5. The work, about a domestic "monster" and his relations with his long-suffering wife, is directed by familiar local actor Mark De Michele. Wrapping up the series on Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12, is Richard Warren's play Snap, about the day that a computer geek, after years of taunting by his jock high school nemesis, finally "snaps." Daniel Schay directs the show.

All performances are followed by audience discussions. The venue is Phoenix Theatre's Little Theatre, at 100 East McDowell. For reservations and details, call 602-254-2151.


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