TheatreXP presents free play reading Monday

“The Signature of Fear,” the new original play by Key West playwright-actor-director Bob Bowersox, will open the 2014 Key West Summer Stage season with a staged reading beginning at 8 p.m., Monday, June 30, at the Red Barn Theatre. The reading is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the South Florida Theatre League as part of its Summer Play Reading Festival, the reading is the only Monroe County participant in the Theatre League’s event, an honor TheatreXP garnered last year as well. Andie Arthur, the executive director of the league, will be in attendance to greet the audience, talk theater and participate in the discussion following the reading.

Some of Key West’s finest actors will be on stage, including Vanessa McCaffrey, Tony Konrath, Melody Moore, Tom Murtha, Joan O’Dowd, Geno Drum and Annie Miners. Bowersox will also be there to introduce the play, its concept and characters and to lead the feedback session with the audience.

“Professional readings are wonderful,” Bowersox said. “As a playwright, it is important to hear your work read because oftentimes you’re so close to it. Bringing it alive and out of my head immediately helps me understand what’s going on with pacing, dynamics, characterization. And feedback from the play’s potential audience is SO important. Those who attend will most definitely be intimately involved in the development of a major new work for the stage.”

Bowersox’s previous play, “Moment of Grace,” was read at last year’s Theatre League event as part of Summer Stage, and then went on to a stellar, critically-acclaimed production run at the Red Barn last November. “The reading made all the difference in the quality of that play,” Bowersox said. “People still come up to me and tell me they liked seeing that some of their suggestions made it into the play.”

“The Signature of Fear,” according to its author, looks at why we hold on to things in our lives, sometimes longer than would be prudent, and the consequences of continuing to hold on or of letting go. It centers on a world-renowned but ailing British poet living near the desert in Arizona for his health, who, when offered one last honor – the grandest of his career – realizes that he can’t accept it, that it’s time he step away from the spotlight. His wife, however, who has engineered his career all their lives and who has become accustomed to sharing the light of her husband’s fame and has reasons of her own for wanting to stay, refuses to go along with his desire to bow out and return to Britain to live out his last days. Add to that mix a daughter conflicted about her own marriage to an alcoholic painter, as well as the poet’s brother – an everyman philosopher bartender who carries a dog-eared copy of Scottish poet Robert Burns’s poetry around with him at all times – and a Scottish nurse obsessed with Las Vegas, and you have all the elements of a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartrending piece of theatre.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. Last year’s reading was a standing-room-only event, so early arrival is recommended. The Red Barn bar will open at 7:30 p.m. for refreshments, and the doors will open shortly thereafter. The reading begins at 8 p.m., with the feedback discussion session to follow immediately.

Season Sponsors for The Key West Summer Stage are Royal Furniture, The Grand Café, KONKLife and Design Group Key West. The reading Monday night is sponsored by the South Florida Theatre League.

For more information on the reading and Summer Stage, visit or call TheatreXP at 302-540-6102.

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