All the Word's a Stage

The interior of the old Federal Theater can be pretty chilly this time of year, but the action on stage this coming Wednesday promises to be plenty hot.

Over the past several years, the monthly Stories for All Seasons series has featured some of the state's best authors reading their works, in genres ranging from science fiction to travel to personal essays to erotica to horror. But on December 17, when the series moves from its usual home at Westside Books up to the Federal's stage, the authors themselves will move into the audience as local actors read their words in a special Stories for All Seasons on Stage.

Melanie Tem, one of the forces behind the regular Stories, was working on her first play with Debbie Knapp of Colorado Dramatists when they came up with the idea of putting Stories on stage. Tem put out the word in the local authors' community that she was looking for submissions; she sent 28 semi-finalists on to Knapp. "I was amazed at what a nice selection we had," Knapp says. "I had so many to choose from that we're going to have another program early next year."

While the December program comes in the middle of the holiday season, don't expect tributes to Santa and his reindeer. Knapp chose the lineup based on each story's quality and whether it would work on stage, and she wound up with a roster that ranges from Edward Bryant, multiple Nebula and American Mystery Award winner, to Jerrie Hurd, a novelist and award-winning short-story writer who's a member of Women Writing the West, to Michael Main, who's never had a fiction piece published, much less performed.

Even the more experienced authors may find themselves surprised by how their works translate to the stage. "It will be curious to see if our character choices match what they thought when they were writing it," says Knapp. "At an author's reading, you're expecting an author's voice. With this, the story comes alive, and the actor is a vehicle for it. It takes life in your brain."

And with action like that, who's going to mind a little chill?

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun