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Palm Beach Dramaworks announces Staged Readings of Two New Plays

House on Fire by Lyle Kessler
Koalas by J. Joseph Cox

February 23 & 24
April 20 & 21
in the Perlberg Studio Theatre
at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre


The Dramaworkshop, Palm Beach Dramaworks’ lab for developing new plays, will be presenting staged readings of two fascinating works, both of which are open to the public. Up first is Lyle Kessler’s House on Fire, a play that will receive its world premiere at PBD during the 2018-2019 season. This darkly comic twist on the Prodigal Son story will be performed on February 23 and 24.  J. Joseph Cox’s tragicomedy Koalas follows on April 20 and 21.

“These staged readings, which are performed by professional actors, provide a great opportunity for anyone interested in the process of creating theatre to get an insider’s look,” says Bruce Linser, manager of The Dramaworkshop. “And they also have the chance to participate in the new play development process, as there’s a talkback following each show.”

Seats at the Perlberg Studio Theatre are limited. Tickets are $10, and all performances are at 8pm.

House on Fire takes place in Fishtown, PA, on the edge of the Delaware River, where four-flushers and thieves abound. Coleman returns home to his dutiful brother, Dale, and their baseball-obsessed Old Man, but he’s not exactly alone. Following Coleman are a one-armed grifter and his ethereally empathic sister. In this moving and funny parable of love, resentment, family, and redemption, secrets emerge from Coleman’s other life, which make it increasingly difficult to tell who is running toward or away from whom.

J. Joseph Cox’s Koalas explores the changing definition of what it means to be a man. The only thing more territorial than the escaped koala in Ray’s backyard is Ray himself. When his domain is unexpectedly invaded by his gender-nonconforming child and unemployed brother, Ray’s protectionism goes into overdrive. Stifled by rules learned from a rigid father and the potential trigger of his ever-present rifle, Ray could become his own worst enemy in his quest to maintain his visitation rights. How can a twentieth-century veteran survive the dawning of the twenty-first?

Lyle Kessler is a playwright, actor, and director in the Los Angeles and New York theatre. He moderated the playwright/directors unit of the Actors Studio West for 11 years and continues to moderate at the Actors Studio East. He is an actor/playwright member of the Labyrinth Theater Company, and has served as artistic director of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. He also participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Conference in Hungary, working with writers from all over Eastern Europe. Mr. Kessler was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation playwriting grant and won the New York State Council on the Arts playwriting award. He and his wife, actress Margaret Ladd, are founders of the Imagination Workshop, which creates scenes and original plays with psychiatric patients, veterans, and “at risk” students in the L.A. public schools. His best-known work is Orphans, which was a hit for Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1985, first in Chicago and then Off-Broadway. Alan J. Pakula directed the 1987 film, which starred Albert Finney, and Alec Baldwin headed the cast of the 2013 Broadway premiere. Mr. Kessler’s plays have been published by Random House, Grove Press, and Samuel French.

J. Joseph Cox’s plays and screenplays have been produced and developed throughout the U.S. and the U.K. His full-length plays include Thirst (Cold Basement Dramatics), St. Paulie’s Delight (finalist, Dayton Playhouse’s FutureFest; semi-finalist, National Playwrights Conference,Great Plains Theatre Conference), and Koalas (finalist, National Playwrights Conference; Little Festival of the Unexpected; Something Marvelous Festival; Seven Devils Playwrights Conference; finalist, Princess Grace Foundation Playwriting Fellowship). His one-act plays include A Very Busy Man and The 800 Pound Gorilla, both produced by The Artistic Home Studio in Chicago. Post-production was recently completed for the short film adaptation of A Very Busy Man. He is a graduate of the Second City Writing Program, and is currently a Network Playwright with Chicago Dramatists and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.



Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach,
at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042,
or visit

Staged readings
House on Fire by Lyle Kessler
February 23 & 24
Time: 8pm
Price: $10
Where: The Perlberg Studio Theatre
at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre
Koalas by J. Joseph Cox
April 20 & 21