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CITY ARTS

Tapping a Talent Mine

January 23, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

It began, said Robert Shorte, as a desire among a small group of black actors to unearth the "gems and pieces" by emerging playwrights who needed to see and hear their works read aloud.

So Shorte, artistic director of the home-grown Chesley Playhouse in View Park, opened up the 60-seat theater to such a possibility, and in 1992 the Chesley Playreader's Society was born. Coordinated by actresses Theressa Rice, Julie Serquinia and Cynthia Urich, the society meets every other week to stage readings of contemporary and classic works, although the emphasis is on the new and untried.

"We laid the groundwork for this as a way to see plays we didn't even hear about," said Rice. "It not only gave writers a chance to air their material, it gave us, as actors, the chance to work immediately and bypass the Hollywood pecking order."

The society also feeds the playhouse works that could be produced in coming seasons.

Two original one-acts recently read at the playhouse, "Garage Sale" and "Body Politic," will be produced this spring. "Zooman and the Sign," a sobering tale of street life by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Charles Fuller, will be read today.

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Chesley Playreader's Society meets at 2 p.m. today at Chesley Playhouse, 5131 Chesley Ave., View Park, (213) 294-4096, 285-3307.

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