Harkening back to the days of old-time radio, Tim O’Conner’s Readers Theater brings short stories to life in front of a live audience. The tradition began when O’Conner and wife Sheila produced a staged reading of “Love Letters” to audience members, and then expanded the format to include other readers and more stories.  Bell-Stewart took up the mantle at the request of O’Conner, who died in 2018.  She continues to bring Readers Theater to Nevada County, each time focusing on stories from a particular decade.  The October show will feature the 1970’s.

Gaylie Bell-Stewart, Sandra Rockman, Lindsay Dunckel, Jon Blinder and Kimberly Ewing

Described as “theater of the mind”, the format first became popular during World War II when there wasn’t a lot of money to assemble full-scale productions.  

Reading through a great number of short stories before making selections that will be presented by different actors, Bell-Stewart said she was working on the choices for this iteration when Roe V Wade was overturned, which may have influenced her, “I was really upset so I really noticed the stories that happened in the 70’s back when it became law, so my stories have theme.”

On Sunday, October 2nd, audience members will hear tales written by well-known authors including, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Brautigan, Donald Barthelme, Olivia Davis and Sylvia Plath.

Bell-Stewart said the stories are about women, “There is one story about one woman who never should have been a mother; another one about a young girl who had to get married to someone she didn’t love because she became pregnant, and the guy that she did love left town.  We have two stories with the church interfering – one in England and one in America. “ 

Bell-Stewart will read Donald Barthelme’s “City of Churches” where the church decides where the main character (a woman) lives and what job to have and whether she can go or stay, and every building in the city is a church.

In addition, Bell-Stewart serves as director for additional readers Sandra Rockman, Lindsay Dunckel, Jon Blinder and Kimberly Ewing, who each bring a unique voice in the telling of these Great American Short Stories.

Bell-Stewart said that while it may feel as though we (as a society) are going backwards, these stories share a timely theme, “We are going back to the 70’s here but also there is a hopeful theme to it which is that we are all here together and we need to be nice to each other.” 

Come early for the music, stay for the stories, leave with something to ponder. 

WHO:  Readers Theater

WHERE:  Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959, Call (530) 265-5040

WHEN:  Sunday, October 2, 2022,   4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

HOW:  $15.00  Doors open at 3:30 p.m.  Show begins at 4:00 p.m.

Tickets available online, by phone or in person at the Miners Foundry Box Office:  325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959 Tuesday – Friday | 9:00am – 4:00pm