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Word Theatre Returns To The Hamptons

Chelsea Katz

Gary Dourdan, Jason Butler Harner, Chris Bauer, Polly Draper and more will participate in this years reading. (Courtesy Photos)

Big short stories from not very well-known authors will come to life in a collection of staged readings on Thursday, August 15 at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The star-studded evening, entitled Telling Tales: People Being Mostly Bad to Each Other (and a Little Good,) will benefit Word Theatre in schools and The Pushcart Prize Fellowships.

Word Theatre In Schools brings actors and playwrights into school classrooms while The Pushcart Prize Fellowship takes the best short stories and poetry from yearly periodicals and compiles them all into one book. Cedering Fox, the artistic director at Word Theatre, takes pieces from the Pushcart catalog and assigns them to different actors based on who she hears in her head as the narrator and how she envisions the piece. She then works with the actors to prepare the staged reading to raise money for Word Theatre.

"We bring really great stories to life," Fox said. "The actors are going to become these characters."

Joyce Carol Oates will be hosting this year's collection of staged readings. Oates, who was nominated for Pulitzer Prizes for her novels "Black Water," "What I Lived For," and "Blonde," is one of the founding editors of The Pushcart Prize. She will be reading one of her own Pushcart Prize-winning stories. Featured performers include Gary Dourdan ("CSI") Chris Bauer ("True Blood," "Flags of Our Fathers,") Jason Butler Harner ("Homeland," "Changeling,") Tracee Chimo ("Orange is the New Black," "He's Way More Famous Than You Are,") Toni Trucks ("Ruby Sparks," "Twilight,") Ronald Guttman ("Mad Men," "Nina,") and Polly Draper ("thirtysomething," "Golden Boy.")

Dourdan said that the audience can expect for him to be a little foolish. In the past, Fox has given him characters beyond his comfort zone. He also expects to give audiences a good night filled with great writing.

He knows first-hand what the money is going to, having participated in Word Theatre in Schools. He has gone into Title I schools to bring literature to life.

"Especially certain age groups, they are distracted and it's a challenging endeavor and we're able to put the inspiration back which is lost with Facebook and Instagram," he said.

With the students who benefit from Word Theatre, the actors are also just looking forward to getting on the stage.

For actors like Harner, he giving audiences a short burst of theater. The stories themselves are much shorter than an actual feature-length play. He expects to receive his script in the upcoming week.

"I don't know what I'm going to be telling yet so hopefully a good one, they can expect an entertaining ride like an amuse bouche, I don't know the flavor," Harner said.

"When you start reading, you live with those mistakes, you live with those great moments," Dourdan said. "When you have that touch of grace, it's a great thing."

Tickets range from $23 to $45 and $100 gets you a VIP ticket which includes prime orchestra seating and access to the reception.

To buy tickets visit guildhall.org or call 866-811-4111. For more information about Word Theatre in Schools, visit www.wordtheatre.com. For more information about The Pushcart Prize Fellowships visit pushcartprize.com.

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