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 George Gray, a local thespian, to dabble in the theatre. The story of how that group evolved into CR/I is posted as Cold Reads Roots in Charlotte.
Ten years later, Gray launched this site, originally as a repository of digital scripts for his group to download, along with random thoughts on theatre and drama.
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 much fun, how easy, how rewarding (and it’s FREE), they’d do it all the time. Over (too much) time, the arguments and processes emerged what has come to be this why and how-to manual and clearinghouse.
Meanwhile, Gray created the Cold Reads/Charlotte Facebook group and recruited a pool of several hundred potential readers, any one of whom could use it to invite friends to their own reads, start their own groups, spread the seeds. Strangely (sadly) no one did. He continued to meet weekly with a few regular readers and occasional drop-ins, never more than six or eight, and disillusionment set in.
Our Pulitzer Year
In 2016, Gray’s Pulitzer Challenge opened CR/I to the world by inviting people everywhere to sign up, download, and read—in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Prize—any one or more (or all) plays that have won the award for Drama. Unfortunately, he learned of the official Centennial Celebration too late to be included in the national agenda, but he submitted the challenge as a Campfire Event, and so impressed the Committee that they published a follow-up feature (Groups Gather). Sad timing.
The kickoff event on May 16 was poorly publicized and attracted barely a score of readers, all of whom enjoyed the evening but never found time to join the group. Just by chance, Pulitzer NC director Banu Valladares happened to be among the few, and she pledged her support, not only for the Challenge, but perhaps also, in time (as Grants and Programs Administrator of the NC Council for the Humanities—previously with the NC Arts Council) for the Cold Reads grassroots movement. Things were looking up—until she found a better job.
The truly sad thing is, nobody but the Challenger signed up. He plowed through all eighty-five, with various revolving members of his small circle, but the project wasn’t properly publicized, and it bombed. (Posts relating to the flop appear in Category Campfire.)
In the Works
The blog will be ready for the world in early 2020. Then we launch a campaign to spread the word, and people get the picture.
We’re also in the early stages of producing a documentary film for YouTube.
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?