For playwright Kenneth Jones, the process of conducting a reading allows him to simplify a new play.
Actors Theatre of Indiana LAB series will present a reading of “Two Henrys” at 2 p.m. May 14 at the Studio Theatre at Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
“We have five readings so far, and with each reading, it seems like I have a little preview performance where I get to learn more,” Jones said. “I end up tweaking it. At one point, it was a one-act play along the lines of a 100-minute play. I put a break in there and it’s now a two-act play. You keep learning about these things as you see them work with different directors and actors.”
Jones said the goal is to always keep it simple.
“It’s getting rid of the clutter. I tend to write really fat and really thick,” Jones said. “I like to edit around that.”
The play, which has also had two full workshops, centers on Constance, who lost her husband after 60 years of marriage. She lost her son, Henry, to HIV/AIDS 15 years earlier. After the death of her husband, Henry’s partner, also named Henry, arrives to express his condolences and to make a connection with the mother-in-law he had never met.
Jan Lucas plays Constance and Sean Blake portrays Henry. ATI co-founder Judy Fitzgerald plays Constance’s daughter, Amy.
The show is set in southwest Florida in 2012.
“It’s about what truths people haven’t talked about or shoved down for so long,” Jones said. “It’s now time for secrets to be revealed. It’s a small, funny, intimate show that starts with a funeral and ends with a wedding. It sounds really dark, but it’s funny. It’s filled with Midwestern characters who love to talk and have a funny way of viewing the world.”
Jones said he is fortunate Richard J. Roberts is the director.
“I’m going to pick his brain and see what pops for him,” Jones said. “It will be great to hear a new cast and new director’s thoughts on it. We have 20 hours of rehearsal on this. It’s quick and dirty. There is always room for rewrite and revision.”
Jones said he is thankful that ATI nurtures new plays.
Tickets are $10. For more, visit atistage.org.