Classic & Contemporary American Plays, a new series of celebrity-studded play readings, has scheduled a season of four events at [Inside] the Ford, the small downstairs venue at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.
Bonnie Franklin, who's best known as the star of the '70s sitcom "One Day at a Time," is spearheading the project. The first readings will feature Tennessee Williams' "Summer and Smoke," starring JoBeth Williams, Rene Auberjonois, Philip Casnoff and K Callan, Sept. 10 to 12.
Franklin said the CCAP group, which began meeting informally several years ago, will focus on American work "because our American theater heritage is so unknown to the young public."
Although the group may eventually produce videotapes of its shows for classroom use, it has no plans to record its programs for the radio, unlike L.A.'s most famous readers' theater series, the L.A. Theatre Works radio theater productions.
Many well-known L.A. actors have never participated in L.A. Theatre Works or in other limited-run series around town, Franklin said, but, like actors who have participated in similar programs, they share a desire "to do fulfilling work in our own town, where we can continue our lives," as opposed to doing lengthy runs of full productions.
CCAP programs will be rehearsed three or four times. They will include some staging of exits and entrances and limited use of lighting, music and other sound effects, but no costumes.
The primary emphases will be "to read these plays in a venue that works for the words of these very literary writers" and, eventually, to take the programming to schools. A board of six actors, including Franklin, selects the plays.
Other scheduled events include William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba" with Piper Laurie and Pat Harrington, Oct. 8 to 10; Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite," with Franklin, Steve Landesberg, Teri Garr, John Rubinstein, Shelley Fabares and David Spielberg, Dec. 3 to 5; and Arthur Miller's "Creation of the World and Other Business," Jan. 28 to 30, with Edward Asner and Auberjonois.