Little Festival of Unexpected will begin May 10

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PORTLAND — Portland Stage Company will present the 22nd annual Little Festival of the Unexpected, an event dedicated to public readings of new American plays, on May 10-14.

Three playwrights — Andrew Harris of Auburn, Ken Urban and William Donnelly — will be in residence at Portland Stage throughout the week, developing their scripts with input from actors, directors and audience members.

This year’s Little Festival also features readings of three short scripts written by area high-school students. All readings are open to the public with a $10 suggested donation.

All festival events will be held in the Studio Theater, Portland Stage’s 75-seat second stage, at 25A Forest Avenue. For reservations, call 774-0465.

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Since its debut in 1990, Little Festival of the Unexpected has established a tradition of nurturing artists and exploring new voices, visions and forms of theater. Often, writers are hearing their play performed by a company of professionals for the first time. Little Festival audiences are encouraged to offer feedback during open discussions following each reading.

Harris’ “Dickens Dream,” adapted from the writing of Charles Dickens, is a one-man play written specifically for the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth. The script draws on stories and characters from some of Dickens’ lesser-known published works, presented in the style of the Reading Tour Performances given by the author himself.

In Urban’s “The Awake,” three strangers — Malcolm, a devoted son; Alice, who might be an Eastern European actress, and Nate, a potential Canadian now on the run — slowly realize their lives are undeniably linked. Inspired by the philosophical fragments of Heraclitus, “The Awake” is a meditation on contemporary America and how to live in a world we no longer understand.

Donnelly’s “Ash” revolves around a long-married couple whose quiet routine is disrupted on a rainy afternoon by the appearance of an enigmatic young stranger and her boyfriend. Part love story, part existential mystery, “Ash” is an unreal comedy in real time.

Here is the schedule of readings:

Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m.: “Dickens Dream,” preceded by “Crazy With You,” by Simone Spalding, Windham High School

Wednesday, May 11, 7 p.m.: “The Awake,” preceded by “The Last Worker,” by Ian Armony, Waterville High School

Thursday, May 12, 7 p.m.: “Ash,” preceded by “Tasting Tears,” by Josephine Cooper, Thornton Academy

Saturday, May 14: 12:30 p.m., “The Awake;” 3:30 p.m., “Dickens Dream;” and 7:30 p.m., “Ash.”

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