Brick Monkey Theater Presents “Sleeping Rough”

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The Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble will present Sleeping Rough, the next offering in its Free Play Reading Series, on Thursday, July 18 at ARTS/West.

The play, written by Kara Manning, received its world premiere three months ago in New York City. Now Athens, Ohio, audiences will be the first to hear it outside the Big Apple.

“We were thrilled when [Manning] offered to send us her newest play,” said cast member Merri Biechler. “We’re always looking for new, thought-provoking plays.”

Director Emily Prince had previously worked with Manning on her play Mind the Gap at The Directors Company in New York. When Brick Monkey started looking for a new play, Prince contacted her old cohort and plans were put in motion to give Sleeping Rough its Midwest premiere.

However, the Brick Monkey cast, which includes Biechler, Brian Evans and Sarah Warda, plans to keep things simple, according to Director Emily Prince.

“There’s no staging, so we’re really going to focus on the text,” she explained. “Kara has written a very beautiful, poetic play and we want to make sure that we’re getting that across.”

Set in 2008, Sleeping Rough centers on Joanna, an American woman who is unable to forgive her country for her son’s death in the Iraq War. She ignores the entreaties of her family and flees to London, the city of her youth.

“It’s a look at one family’s grief and how a death brings them together and pulls them apart,” said Biechler.

Brick Monkey presents its Free Play Reading Series as a way to stay connected with its audience between productions. Sleeping Rough will be the company’s 16th free reading.

For those who aren’t familiar with play readings, the actors act with script-in-hand and the stage directions are read aloud.

“While the play is not staged, the audience gets to hear the words and build the story and set in their minds,” said Biechler, who added that Brick Monkey is hoping have another reading before its returning production of An Appalachian Christmas Carol in December.

Thursday’s show time is 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed.

The Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble is supported by the Ohio Arts Council, the Athens Foundation and the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.