Following Orlando massacre, ‘theater action’ grows to international proportions

Literary Director and Dramaturg Carrie Chapter (left) curated the 'After Orlando' reading for The Philadelphia Theatre Company. Playwright Zac Kline (right) is one of the creators of the

Literary Director and Dramaturg Carrie Chapter (left) curated the 'After Orlando' reading for The Philadelphia Theatre Company. Playwright Zac Kline (right) is one of the creators of the "After Orlando" theater action and a native Philadelphian. (Images courtesy of Philadelphia Theatre Company)

When a trio of playwrights learned of last June’s mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, they invited a small group of friends to write very short plays in reaction to the tragedy, and planned a few evenings to present them.

“We all felt this sense of grief and anger and confusion about what happened in Orlando and said we have to do something,” recalled playwright Zac Kline, one of the organizers. “As theater makers, we have to galvanize our own feelings and community. Out of that was born the idea of speaking with a few playwrights and asking would they be interested in writing short plays in response to the shooting.”

Dubbed a “theater action,” “After Orlando” quickly grew into a collective of 70 playwrights in five countries, with staged readings scheduled throughout the fall, including one at the Philadelphia Theatre Company.  Literary manager and dramaturge Carrie Chapter said the project resonated with them as soon as they learned of it.

“I was keeping in mind PTC’s mission statement, how we work to showcase the human experience through an American context,” she explained. “We wanted to provide something of a new kind of event, what theater making can do in light of tragedy, and how we can present it as a response piece but also as a chance for all of us to come together.”

Philadelphia Theatre Company will present “After Orlando,” a free staged reading of 16 short plays on Monday evening at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

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