Post Script

Thoughts on theater from page to stage.

A New Place to Develop New Stories

Workshop Stage Presents its Inaugural Reading of In a Clearing


The essentials:

What: The public is invited to attend a staged reading of Karen Saari’s new play In a Clearing

When: 7:30 p.m. on July 27 and 28

Where: in the Diane Ballweg Theatre on the Edgewood College campus.

Who: Directed by David Pausch, the play features Madison-based actors Casem AbuLughod, Autumn Shiley, Jamie England, and Jess Schuknecht

How much? Free admission, with a suggested donation of $10 collected at the door

More info: Workshop Stage’s Facebook page

Why go? Be in the room where it happens. Seeing a play in progress is a fascinating experience. As an audience member you play a crucial role in shaping the work. Plus, it features some great actors and a compelling story. You may even get to talk to the playwright about things you liked in the play.


The rest of the story:

It’s the third time Madison playwright Karen Saari will see actors bring her script, In a Clearing, to life. The play, about a man struggling with his new found sobriety, has already benefitted from a workshop and reading through the Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival, and it was also chosen for development earlier this summer at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, in Alaska.

But this is the first time she’s collaborating with Workshop Stage, a new theater company that is dedicated to helping playwrights refine, revise, and develop their scripts, so that they’re eventually ready to be marketed to theaters throughout the country.

“Playwrights usually work in isolation,” said Dave Pausch, Producing Director of the new company. “They write and rewrite, editing characters’ lines on a screen. But theater is a collaborative art. Scripts need actors and directors to fully realize the story and it’s only by seeing the play on its feet that playwrights can understand what’s working in their script.” He continued, “Staged readings are an essential part of any piece’s development, and frankly, it’s the most exciting and fulfilling part of making theater for me. That’s why I founded Workshop Stage.”

Pausch has been active in the Madison theater scene for years, working with both professional and community-based companies. A graduate of UW-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration, he spent time at the Madison Rep and was a co-founder of Bricks Theatre, in addition to directing plays for many of the companies that inhabit the Bartell. This past season he directed highly acclaimed productions of August: Osage County for Mercury Players and Laughter on the 23rd Floor for Strollers Theater. But he insists that his most rewarding experiences have come from collaborating with playwrights and actors on new work, such as original pieces for Forward Theatre’s monologue festivals and productions written by local playwright Sam White.

Another goal of Workshop Stage is to bring unique stories to the stage, and Pausch says In a Clearing achieves that. “We simply do not hear the voices in this play often enough. I’m excited for Madison audiences to experience that.”

In the future, Pausch hopes to work with up to three new or emerging playwrights per year, developing scripts with original stories and under-represented perspectives. “Above all Workshop Stage is about taking big risks and nurturing new work with the help of exceptional actors, directors, and dramaturgs,” he said. To that end, Pausch plans to incorporate the company as a non-profit organization, recruit board members and build slowly and strategically in the future.

But first, he’s got a show to direct. Don’t miss it.


Gwen Rice