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'A Change is Coming'

Transformation — personal, social and political — is a recurring theme throughout “Moonlighting 2015: A Change is Coming…,” Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s series of dramatic readings of new, short plays by local playwrights.

Presented Friday, July 17, at Grizzly Peak Winery and Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19, at the Ashland Community Center, many of the plays reflect life’s dramatic turning points laced with wry humor.

“The beginning of this play was written in the waiting room of my doctor approaching an operation,” says Phil Loveless about his play, “No Women Allowed.” “The end of the play was written after the operation, had I not made it, the play would have been a lot shorter.”

Resistance to social change and reinforcement of the status quo also is explored in several monologues.

“Their protagonists are near the top of the food chain. They see massive changes on the horizon and they want to enforce the status quo,” says Jeannine Grizzard. Her monologue, “An Anti-Suffrage Appeal,” is a historic monologue by Lady Randolph Churchill. Other historic characters explored in monologues are Rasputin in “The Chess Lesson” by John Richardson and John Wilkes Booth in “The Great Ape” by Warren Carlson.

John Yunker’s play “The Sales Rank Also Rises” reflects cultural change. He sees a world obsessed with numbers.

“Changes in technology reflect changes in society, in which we measure everything — miles walked, calories burned, number of friends, likes, re-tweets. In a world in which everything is measured, how do we look beyond numbers to see what matters most?”

Ruth Wire’s “The Ferry of Relativity” tells a true story of a chance meeting with Albert Einstein in 1951 on the Staten Island Ferry, and how that encounter influenced her family’s destiny. Among his many truisms, Einstein quips, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Julia Sommers’ play “Brothers” investigates how differently siblings remember a common past.

“My parents died leaving many unanswered questions and a fractured family,” Sommers says. Her play takes a look at “how healing and change might come about even after death. 'Brothers' is also infused with humorous insight. As the character Rose looks into the casket of her dearest friend, she says, 'She certainly kept her figure better than I did.' ”

One mission of Ashland Contemporary Theater is the development of new, original drama by providing Rogue Valley playwrights with opportunities to have their work performed through regular dramatic readings and stage productions.

The plays will be directed by Will Churchill, Karen Douglas and Jeannine Grizzard, and supported by a strong cast that includes David Dials, Richard Heller, Bo Brazeau, Joe Charter, Will Churchill, Ruth Wire, Sam Younghans, Ian Jackson, Collene Pyke and Jeannine Grizzard.

Performances are set for 2 p.m. Friday, July 17, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland, and 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, and 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way. 

Tickets cost $12 and can be purchased at the door or online at ashlandcontemporarytheatre.org.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and theater director living in Ashland. Reach her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.