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Monday December 6th

PlayMakers stages PRC2 series

Will feature smaller, more intimate shows

Sometimes it only takes a monologue to start a dialogue.

PRC2 — a series of plays produced solely for PlayMakers Repertory Company’s second stage — specializes in intimate and interactive performances woven with conversations between the audience and performers.

This season at PRC2

A Number, Sept. 7 to Sept. 11, 2011.

The Amish Project, Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, 2012.

Penelope, April 25 to April 29, 2012.

Staged in Kenan Theatre, a much smaller space than the mainstage Paul Green Theatre, PRC2 shows typically feature smaller casts and a dialogue with the cast and crew following each performance.

The series of performances was conceived in 2007 with two aims in mind: to produce plays that are both challenging for artists and good sources for audience discussion, said Hannah Grannemann, managing director for PlayMakers.

Each season, three performances are reserved for the PRC2 stage.

PRC2’s emphasis on discussion not only enriches the theater and performance experience for the audience, but also for the actors, said Ray Dooley, a UNC professor of dramatic art and actor in PRC2’s opening show, “A Number.”

“It doesn’t change the technical aspect of being a performer, but it does add an exciting relationship as a community member,” he said.

Jeffrey Meanza, associate artistic director for PlayMakers, said that “A Number” was a title that he had been interested in for a long time.

“It asks so many unanswered questions,” he said. “It keeps people talking.”

Like “A Number,” the plays usually featured in the PRC2 series are smaller than the musicals or Shakespearean epics that PlayMakers is known for. This season, two of the plays are one-woman shows.

The first, “The Amish Project,” was recently announced by PlayMakers and will be performed in January. The show’s sole actress, Jessica Dickey, also wrote the play.

The production is a fictionalized account of the 2006 shooting and hostage incident in an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania that resulted in the death of five girls.

“Unfortunately, these kinds of events seem to keep happening,” Grannemann said. “It’s a contribution that we can make as a theater to help a community to digest these horrible events.”

PlayMakers considered producing “The Amish Project” last season, but ultimately decided to wait.

“It’s particularly exciting because it’s been on our radar for awhile,” Meanza said.

The last show of the season is “Penelope,” whose author and sole actress, Ellen McLaughlin, also starred in the series’ closing play last season, “The Year of Magical Thinking.”

Mike Donahue, director of “A Number,” said the smaller, more personal PRC2 format is liberating.

“It allows to you be in the mindset of exploring and taking risks and knowing that you can take risks.”

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