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Home Made Theater, Saratoga SpringsWith the economy still in an uphill battle, everyone’s looking for fun alternative ways to get out of the house and still be entertained at little or no cost to them. Here’s one suggestion for you—why not take in a reading during The Home Made Theater’s Shuster Series in Saratoga? The series, which consists of a number of staged readings featuring top-notch scripts and actors, will be held one Sunday per month at 3pm, beginning September 19th and running through April 10th.

The series debuts on September 19th with John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning play Doubt. Set in the St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx, the school’s principal, Sister Aloysius, is led to believe that the school’s newest priest is having sexual affairs with its first black student. Truth? Paranoia? Reality? Nothing is clear until the end. Full of dramatic tension and suspense, Shanley’s script boldly confronts the issue of pedophilia and homosexuality in the Catholic Church. Doubt was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Reasons to Be Pretty is the second of the plays in the Shuster Series, receiving its reading on October 17th. Scripted by popular playwright Neil Labute, Reasons to Be Pretty puts a comedic, yet serious spin on America’s obsession with beauty. Themes, such as the pressure induced by society’s ideal of a pretty woman, and how this is pressured onto women from significant others as well friends, abound throughout. The script is one of three Labute has written around those obsessed with physical appearance; the other two are The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. It was also Labute’s first play to run on Broadway.

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part One: Millenium Approaches , widely considered the most important play of the 1990s, will also be part of this year’s readings. Set in 1985, when AIDS was thought to be an epidemic, Angels in America, Part One: Millenium Approaches focuses on characters dealing with the pains of the disease. From one man who has AIDS and is forced to tell his new partner, to another Mormon couple, who have difficulty salvaging their marriage because the wife believes her husband might be gay, the play verges on politically stringent issues of the time.

Ted ShusterThese are just a few of the plays offered in the series. The Shuster Series will run through April, with a one month break in December for their holiday shows. “The Shuster Series is actually named in honor of Ted Shuster. He was one of the actor/directors at the theater, who also served as an artistic advisory board member,” says Kathleen Dunham, one of The Home Made Theater’s founders and owners. “The series is dedicated to him, because he was struck and killed by a drunk driver in September 2004, so in honor of his memory, we do these readings every year.” The Shuster Series is a free event, but they do accept donations at the door in support of their local theater. For a full list of plays, visit or call 518-587-4427 for details.

–Juliet Barney is an Assistant Editor of The Free George.

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