Though I’m glad to be done with the reading assignments and homework, there are some aspects of higher education—of the education part, I should clarify—that I miss. Besides the parties and summer vacations, I long for the professor-led, intelligent, focused discourse on any matter of subjects, after which I almost always walked away feeling as though I’d learned something new, or finally formed an opinion on an important topic.

In the real world, these ‘lessons’ are harder to come by. Which is why I’m into Local Theater Company‘s Before the Curtain Rises salon series. The Boulder troupe created the five-event informative series to help artists better understand how new works are created, and to aid audience members in how to watch and discuss plays. The salons began in January, and have been mostly hosted in Boulder, but the next one will be held in Denver (February 11 at the Grant Humphreys Mansion, 7 to 8:30 p.m., $15, includes tea and dessert).

Each salon is different, but expect smart insight into the makings a play (from how the director starts thinking about a work to a look at a playwright’s process), short readings from new works, and a lively discussion between Local’s creative team—co-founder and artistic director Pesha Rudnick, co-founder and managing director Megan Mathews, actor/producer/director Rachel Fowler, and associate artistic director Mare Trevathan—and attendees. At a recent event, the audience learned about Aristotle’s six characteristics for a strong theatrical work and then applied them to a play that will be read at the upcoming Local Lab New Play Fest (see below). The audience becomes the crew, thoughtfully adding new perspectives as part of a pseudo table read of an upcoming play. It’s interesting, it’s fun, and it allows theatergoers an opportunity to engage at an elevated level.

On the calendar: Put your newfound knowledge to use during Local Theater’s fourth-annual Local Lab New Play Fest, March 13 to 15 at eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder. The weekend-long event features professionally staged readings of three new plays (including Wyoming by Brian Watkins, who grew up in Colorado), talkbacks with the directors and playwrights, parties, and more. Festival passes are $65 in advance and $75 at the door.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at