Thunder River’s New Play Development Series features local playwright in free reading

Jessica Cabe
Alex Pototsky
Courtesy Photo |

If You Go...

Who: Alex Pototsky and Thunder River Theatre Company

What: New Play Development Series: ‘Final Grades’ staged reading

When: 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday

Where: Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale

How Much: Free

Since its launch in 2010, Thunder River Theatre Company’s (TRTC) New Play Development Series has been giving playwrights the opportunity to share their shows with the Roaring Fork Valley in the form of staged readings. This year, in celebration of the theater’s 20th anniversary, Executive Artistic Director Lon Winston chose to only accept submissions from locals.

“As part of our 20th anniversary, I wanted to celebrate the theater artists in our valley,” Winston said. “That meant for our New Play Development Series as well as our productions.”

This year’s chosen play is “Final Grades” by Glenwood Springs High School graduate Alex Pototsky. This will be the first full-length play of his that will be performed.

“Final Grades” was loosely inspired by Pototsky’s experience at Glenwood Springs High School. It takes place in a teachers’ lounge and follows various people who believe they’re about to get final grades — either literal or figurative.

“It’s about people who are stuck in between where they’re from and where they’re going,” he said.

Pototsky’s interest in writing came during the summer after his freshman year in high school when he decided to write a screenplay for a sequel to “The Dark Knight.” He eventually moved into playwriting when he realized stage productions were easier to bring to life than films.

Pototsky recently graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, but he’s thrilled to be returning to the valley to see “Final Grades” on stage.

“I thought it would be cool if the first staged reading of my own work was in my backyard,” he said. “I’ve always thought that theater is important to the intellectual life of an artistic community. I think continuing to develop theater in the valley is important.”

That cultivation of new theatrical works is one of the reasons Winston started the New Play Development Series.

“As a professional theater, I believe we have the responsibility to keep live theater thriving,” Winston said. “The only way to really do that is to encourage new playwrights. Otherwise we will just end up producing history — we need new stories that reflect the world we live in now.”

TRTC company member Kristin Carlson was the first playwright featured in the New Play Development Series in 2010 with her work, “Eudora’s Box.”

“It was thrilling to have a regional theater with professional actors tackle a new piece like that,” she said. “A lot of theaters offer readings, and it’s a way to honor new work, but the playwright isn’t afforded the luxury of rewrites during the reading. But at Thunder River, you can do that. The actors understand that this is a new work development process. It helped me create a full-length play that said what it needed to say. It’s very playwright-friendly.”

After “Eudora’s Box” was read, Carlson was invited to jump on board the coordination effort for future series. She helps select the play and facilitates the production process.

While the reading is not a full-blown production, Carlson said it will feature great acting and storytelling.

“It’s a chance for the audience to come see a play in the womb of creation,” she said. “We do invite feedback from the audience, and a lot of times that can really help the playwright shape his work. It’s a great chance for the community to come nurture the arts.”

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