Cope Play “Wisdom” Gets Public Reading, Audience Truly Invested

Playwright George Cope introduces his play Wisdom while Arthur Paul works his role as Sam Saturday afternoon at the Chapel Street Players in Newark De
Playwright George Cope introduces his play Wisdom while Arthur Paul works his role as Sam Saturday afternoon at the Chapel Street Players in Newark De

If the audience’s peppering of George Cope with questions Saturday after the first public reading his new play “Wisdom” is any indication of his ability to make the people care about his story, all is right at the Chapel Street Players.

Given the mixed age of the audience – maybe better than alight, but that ise a different story for another day – there were young people there! Yeehaw!

The play – an original work from Mr. Cope – juxtaposes the idea that wisdom, true wisdom – comes from experience, and personal insight, more than it comes from the opinions of others or technological advances.

The script – in its current form – uses the foils of a young woman and a septuagenarian man, who each must come to grips with newly found and long carried wisdom borne of heartbreak.

Mr. Cope’s insightful use of modern technologies such as smartphones, clouds (the data kind), apps, and older technologies like books to demonstrates what is unknown or unknowable drives the story forward.

Important to remember – a public reading as envisioned by the Chapel Street Players NEXT Playwriting Group is part of the editing, rewriting, and polishing process. Simply, these are roughed hewn works with the knots and rough spots attendant in any foundational artwork.

Even so, Director Susie Moak and her cast of Arthur Paul, Bethany Miller, Alan Harbaugh, Mike Mekulski, and Heather Conrad brought the work beautifully to life with a depth of feeling that highlighted all of Mr. Cope’s superb writing. They were perfect.

From L: Mike Mekulski, as Pell, Heather Conrad as Dina, and Bethany Miller as Clare bring George Cope's "Wisdom" to life.
From L: Mike Mekulski, as Pell, Heather Conrad as Dina, and Bethany Miller as Clare bring George Cope’s “Wisdom” to life.

And that’s what makes this process so wonderful at the Chapel Street Players. It is truly a community endeavor. Local playwrights develop stories in the basement of the theater, local actors help polish the scripts, a director brings the reading to life, and perhaps most importantly, an audience is brought in to hear the work, and comment.

Anyway, at the end of the two act reading when Mr. Cope asked for comments, He got some.

The comment period – facilitated by Mr. Cope – went about 90 minutes and the topics ranged from play structure, to exposition, and finally to character development.

Three themes/ideas dominated the discussion

  1. Something was hidden and we all wanted to know what it was;
  2. Mr. Cope made us care about the characters, we were emotionally invested; and
  3. Is okay to let the audience leave a performance with unanswered questions?

Heady stuff.

This is the second public reading at Chapel Street Players, of a locally written work. The first was last October.

Anyone who wants to try their hand at playwriting or thinks they do are invited to come to the Chapel Street Players NEXT meeting. The meetings occur at the Chapel Street Players Theater every third Saturday at 10 a.m. Actors are needed too!!!

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