'Third on Third' brings stories to life

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The date was Monday, Sept. 18, and the fledgling “Third on Third” program faced a dilemma.

The Carnegie Screenwriters started “Third on Third” in February, presenting local actors reading scripts by local writers on the third Monday of every month. But September’s program was up against the Steelers playing the Cincinnati Bengals in a “Monday Night Football” game.

“We were still building our audience and we wanted to be consistent with our date and our location,” said Bob Podurgiel, one of the founders and organizers of “Third on Third.”

“People had warned us not to go up against the Steelers, but we didn’t listen. There was a young man from Chicago with us, and he said, ‘I don’t think that’s going to be a problem because the arts community and the sports community are completely different.’ And I’m thinking, ‘No, this is Pittsburgh. That might work in Chicago, but not here.’”

Still, they went on with the show.

“We had more actors than audience,” Mr. Podurgiel laughed.

Fortunately, that’s been the only stumble in the increasing popularity of “Third on Third,” which returns tonight for the presentation of four scripts at the Third Street Gallery in Carnegie.

The scripts are of an interesting variety: “Heaven” by Ken Heusey; “Vladimir Putin Stole My Muse” by Kevin Hejna; “Digitized Comics” by Joyce Bevc; and “The Treasure” by Mr. Podurgiel, which is about a little boy who attends a local wrestling match with his grandmother, and everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The script — a tribute to studio wrestling — was a quarter-finalist in last year’s Steeltown Script Writing Competition.

Close to a dozen local actors will be doing the reading.

“The actors bring it alive,” Mr. Podurgiel said. “Very often, the writers don’t have the capacity to think in terms of other characters. The stories are based on their own experiences and they have trouble projecting. The actors add dimensions that even the writers don’t see, because they look at it through fresh eyes.

“It’s amazing, the difference. In fact, we now recommend that members of the Carnegie Screenwriters take an acting class to get this insight. It makes their work better.”

As described by Mr. Podurgiel, Carnegie Screenwriters “is dedicated to excellence in screenwriting and film production,” and has produced a number of independent films. The group has more than 200 members throughout Western Pennsylvania, sponsoring workshops for writers, actors and production crews with an eye on moviemaking.

Donations from the “Third on Third” shows are being pooled to produce a script early next year. The public will be able to help select the script through voting on Facebook.

You can learn all about the process at tonight’s event, starting at 7, at 220 Third St. in Carnegie. Admission is $5 and there will be food, drink and discussion all evening.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com.

First Published November 18, 2013 4:38 PM

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