A Red Well Theater Group presentation includes a brief introduction of the selected play’s thematic relevance to the group therapy enterprise.  The therapist-as-actors work in a ‘theater-in-the-round’ arrangement, whereby they are seated in a circle, surrounded on all sides by concentric circles of audience. With no props or stage movement, the presentation is akin to a ‘radio play’, with the actors interactively, vocally portraying their characters for full dramatic effect.  At the conclusion of the reading, audience members pair up with a neighbor for an immediate exchange of their reactions to the play. This is followed by a clinically informed, discussant commentary. We conclude the presentation with a moderated audience discussion.

‘Art’ by Yasmina Reza

Three men friends face an apocalypse when one of them spends a small fortune on an all-white painting. Marc disapproves of the work of art and the ‘system’ behind it. But more compellingly, he disapproves of Serge’s independence. Will their friendship survive such audacity and disdain? Will Yvan, ever the peacemaker, restore harmony in time for his only two friends to still be witnesses at his wedding—in two weeks!  “That such a simple plot can throw up such profound and meaty ideas about the rules that dictate art and friendship is a real treat. Reza and Hampton have an acute ear for the idiocies, trivia and petty assaults that pepper the conversation between friends…The real pleasures come from Reza’s creation of three beautifully defined, original characters…” —The Mail, London.

Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo

A newlywed couple fixes up two romantically challenged friends.  He is the wife’s “best friend” and unofficial ‘foster brother’.  She is the husband’s sexy and strange new co-worker.  When their ill-fated date takes a dark turn, ethical questions emerge.  What do we owe the people we love and the strangers who land on our doorstep?  “This comedy of bad manners, a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics among a quartet of men and women in their thirties, is as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage from its first moments to its last…deftly plotted, scabrous and sharp-witted…One of the great pleasures of BECKY SHAW is the way the moral ground keeps shifting underneath your feet.” —NY Times.

Dog Sees God by Bert V. Royal

Imagine the Peanuts comic strip characters ten years later, beset with teenage angst about sex, gender identity and what life-after-hormones has in store.  When CB’s dog dies from rabies, he begins to question the existence of an afterlife. His best friend is too burnt out to provide any coherent speculation; his sister has gone Goth; his ex-girlfriend has recently been institutionalized; and his other friends are too inebriated to give him any sort of solace. But a chance meeting with an artistic kid, the target of this group’s bullying, offers CB a peace of mind and sets in motion a friendship that will push teen angst to the very limits.

The Great God Pan by Amy Herzog

Jamie’s life in Brooklyn seemed just fine—a beautiful girlfriend, a budding journalism career, and parents who live just far enough away.  But when a possible childhood trauma comes to light, lives are thrown into chaos. Jamie discovers what is lost and won when a hidden truth is unloosed into his world. How does someone make sense of a traumatic past that cannot be remembered?  “Within its fascinating parade of alternate possibilities, Herzog has packed a set of big, beautiful, perpetually troubling questions, moral and philosophical. The work is tiny, but it runs deep.” —Village Voice.

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza

A playground altercation between eleven-year-old boys brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents.  At first diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the meeting progresses and the rum flows, the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters.  Just how thin is Freud’s famous “veneer of civility” in 21st century America? “A streamlined anatomy of the human animal…delivers the cathartic release of watching other people’s marriages go boom. A study in the tension between civilized surface and savage instinct, this play is itself a satisfyingly primitive entertainment.” —NY Times.

Off the Map by Joan Ackerman

Bo Groden looks back on the summer when she was eleven years old and everything changed. This is the summer when Charley, her father, spiraled into depression. Usually able to build and fix anything, he is unable to fix himself. Bo amuses herself by writing letters for free samples and praying for a miracle to deliver her from a mother who gardens in the nude and a father who cannot stop weeping. The miracle arrives in the form of William Gibbs, a displaced IRS agent who arrives in a fever and never leaves. As the artist within William emerges, each member of the family is deeply affected and ultimately changed forever.

Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire

Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. RABBIT HOLE charts their bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day.  The young couple struggles with complex grief following the accidental death of their four-year old son. Is someone to blame? What will life be like without their son? Will their marriage survive?  “A perceptive and poignant study in the day-to-day aches of bereavement: problems with personal intimacy, the uneasy friends who don’t call, the emptiness in a house packed with reminders…Heartbreaking in its theme and details, RABBIT HOLE is a beautifully crafted work of great sensitivity.” —Star-Ledger.

Rounding Third by Richard Dresser

Rounding Third is the tumultuous journey of two Little League coaches through an entire season, from their first tentative meeting to the climactic championship game. Don is the tough, blue-collar, win-at-all-costs veteran coach. Michael is a newcomer to the town and to baseball. Michael believes that the job of the coaches is to shield the kids from the intense pressure of competition while making sure everyone has a good time. Don thinks they should be teaching the kids how to win. Out of these conflicting philosophies, the real issues of the play emerge. Since we live in such a ferociously competitive society, do we protect our children as long as possible? Or do we prepare them to be tough enough to win? And what does it mean to be an American man?” –Dramatic Publishing Company.

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuiness

An American doctor, an Irish journalist and an English academic are being held captive by terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon. The three display their national biases and prejudices, which are intensified in the cramped confines of their cell. As time passes, resentments and recriminations give way to an acknowledgment of their characters, strengths and weaknesses. They learn that humor is their surest weapon against their captors and the safest armor to protect them selves. Each comes to know him self through listening to the stories, sorrows and joys of the others. At the end of the play, they are capable of standing together and alone.