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WLRN's Summer Theatre Fest ends with dark comedy stage reading at Arts Garage

Staff Writer

What Palm Beach County thinks matters to Broward playwright David Sirois.

That’s why he is having a stage reading of his latest work, “Off Center of Nowhere,” at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach. The performance is the final event of WLRN’s Summer Theatre Fest.

“It’s a very different audience in each of the counties,” Sirois says. “A Dade crowd is not a Broward crowd, which is not a Palm Beach County crowd.”

Following the success of his play “Brothers Beckett” in 2011, Sirois wants to get more feedback before shopping “Off Center of Nowhere” around Chicago and New York.

“I did it in March of 2012 at Alliance Theatre Lab,” he says, referring to the company based in Miami Lakes. “I thought Delray Beach and West Palm Beach would be great because you don’t know how an original work will be received up there.”

In “Off Center of Nowhere,” a Brooklyn teenager has to share a secret with her family. But in doing so, she unleashes confessions from the whole family that force them to face moral conundrums.

“The skewed and difficult reality our young people are facing in today’s challenging world is best expressed by his wonderfully and darkly comic perspective,” says Lou Tyrrell, artistic director of Theatre at Arts Garage. “It is dark, and it is funny … and he’s able to tap into that.”

The play also deals, more specifically, with issues of abortion, religion and racism.

“I wrote this before Trayvon Martin,” Sirois says. “In the beginning of the play, a young black man comes in through the window. I want you to feel racist. Immediately, you feel threatened. You feel danger. It’s like, ‘OK, what am I seeing?’ It deals with very, very dark and deep issues. It’s a very serious play, and it’s also very funny.”

The creative spark came, Sirois says, when he read a newspaper article about a 13-year-old who got an abortion without having to inform her parents. From there, Sirois, who was raised Catholic in Waterbury, Conn., (“I live in a state of enlightenment now”) says he started to wonder what his beliefs were with those issues.

“The first 10 pages in, you can tell you are in the presence of an artist with a talent for dialogue [and] character development,” Tyrrell says. “He really has a talent for writing about in-depth relationships, complex relationships … and a general talent for theater storytelling. David represents a new generation of playwrights who show us the world through a different, often surreal, lens. I think because the world these young artists have experienced since the turn of the century, the years they have come of age, have been filled with conflict — suicide bombers, unending wars, economic turmoil, global upheaval — a darkly satirical view of the world, if not a downright fatalism about the future, would seem natural, even healthy.”

From the play’s previous staging, Sirois has made some tweaks that he is eager to test in front of an audience. The largest is that he has inserted more Italian-Brooklyn patois.

“My best friend is Italian,” he says. “I went and stayed with his family in Staten Island. I listened to them talk and to the rhythms. I put in a lot more Italian slang, that Brooklyn vernacular.”


Off Center of Nowhere

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Arts Garage, 180 NE First St., Delray Beach

Cost: $10

Contact: 561-450-6357 or (click on “WLRN’s Summer Theatre Fest”)

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