Our History

Charlotte’s Golden Circle

In early 2004, a small, diverse group of curious seniors, strangers all, with little or no stage experience, gathered under the volunteer guidance of myself, George Gray, a local thespian, to dabble in the Wholly Human Art. The story of how that group evolved into CR/I is posted as Cold Reads Roots in Charlotte.

Ten years later, I created this WordPress weblog, originally intended simply as a repository of digital scripts for my group to download, along with random thoughts on theatre and drama.

Eureka

Several factors came together all at once to trigger the notion that reading plays is the next best thing to being there, and if people everywhere just knew how easy, how much fun, how rewarding it can be—and all for FREE—they’d do it all the time. Over (too much) time, the arguments and processes emerged into what has come to be this why and how-to manual and clearinghouse and the fruit of my  obsession.

Meanwhile, I created the Cold Reads/Charlotte Facebook group and recruited a pool of several hundred potential readers, any one of whom could invite friends to read, start their own groups, spread the seeds. Strangely (sadly) no one did, and all too few attended my events. I continued to meet weekly with a few regulars and occasional drop-ins, rarely more than six or eight, and disillusionment set in.

Our Pulitzer Year

In the fall of 2015, to recognize 100 years of The Pulitzer Prize, I published my intention to read with others every drama that won the prize from the first presentation (May 16, 1917) to Hamilton (May 19, 2016), and cordially invited everyone who stumbled on the blog to sign up, download, and read one or more (or all) of the prize-winning plays, with a prize at the end for the most. If things had worked out, it could have put Cold Reads on the map.

They didn’t.

The story of my local effort is recounted in the Roots in Charlotte post. Nobody else in the world signed up.

For one big thing, I only learned of the official Centennial Celebration that December—a year too late to be included in the national calendar of events. More to the point, I didn’t get the word out. Marketing has never been my strong suit, and my argument for reading plays was still a work in progress, not ready to be widely publicized. While I and various revolving members of my small circle did read all the plays, it was a Pyrrhic victory, and the year left me exhausted and despondent through much of the next, until I couldn’t “take it any more” and looked at the larger picture.

My goal became a global grassroots movement prompted by the contents of the blog, and I slaved away at the impossible task of composing the argument. To make the point, I renamed the Cold Reads blog, now /International, and planned a massive marketing strategy.

Then I got cancer, and another eighteen months dragged by.

Serendipity

No sooner had I recovered and resumed my weekly reads when COVID-19 shut us down, while simultaneously—miraculously—the internet opened video-chat technology to the public free of charge. Not only can I read with locals; I can read with friends all over in a virtual (digital) venue, face to face—and so can you.

I promptly launched Cold Reads on Line, a Facebook group that anyone, anywhere, can join, sign up to read, host Cold Reads events online, and instigate local groups, for when the virus goes away.

Cold Reads is a whole new game, thanks to ZOOM (and COVID). Open the floodgates!

In the Works

This blog will be ready for the world by the end of the year (2020), at which time I’ll find some way to bring it to that world’s attention. Any help along those lines is more than welcome (see Our People).

I’m also in the early stages of producing a documentary film..

What happens next is make or break. If cold reads don’t catch on, it’s over. Too much disillusion. Hopefully, they become a popular pastime and readers join up, hook up, spread the word. We’ll outgrow our tiny staff and free WordPress blog as readings are absorbed into our culture, taught in schools…

To be continued?

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Reading Plays with Friends for Fun and Cultural Enrichment

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