Meet the Author

20211129 Author portraitMeet Salvador Esparza, The Reading’s very own guest of honor: Lorenzo DelaGato.

Salvador thinks that nothing embodies Lorenzo more than the eloquence that echoes into eternity as he says: "I look f&%!?#€ fierce." It’s rather Shakespearean when you really think about it.

When having to reflect on his favorite moment in the play, he immediately goes to the moment where he’s admiring the poster of himself in the hotel lobby. Lorenzo has self-esteem in surplus and Salvador has really gotten to enjoy playing someone with that level of ego.

When asked about DelaGato’s choices for housing-on-the-go, Salvador knows without a shadow of a doubt that Lorenzo only stays at JW Marriotts and the Ritz Carlton. The Hollydae’In would never be on the list if it wasn’t for his publicist.

While other characters may have to speculate on what their erotic novels would be called, Lorenzo has no speculating to do given that he built a career around that “what if”. But if he were to write one inspired by his own life, it would be called Dalliances in the Dark, given that so much of his erotic and romantic life has had to take place in the shadows.

As for what Lorenzo would rate his stay at the Hollydae’In: he wouldn't even provide a rating. He'd report the location as a scam on Google Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and any other possible place this crappy hotel has presence.

Photo: Jaakko Nikkilä
Text: Salvador Esparza

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Meet the Concierge

20211128 Concierge portraitAh, welcome to the Hollydae’In! Todd Elliott, The Concierge/Bartender/Chef, at your service. How may he help you?

While our multi-talented Concierge has an abundance of wonderful thoughts,Todd’s favorite line as the Concierge is: "Yes it is! It is! This is my business, my hotel, and you are causing all sorts of pandemonium."

While our Concierge seems to be caught in the middle of all of the freak happenings at The Reading, Todd ominously describes his favorite moment as the moment that the lights come back on.

There’s also no need to wonder if the Concierge has any preferences in terms of what hospitality chain or service is his favorite. He IS the HollyDae’In and wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else.

Don’t you get to thinking that this overworked man doesn’t need a stress relief outlet. If he were to write an erotic novel, he would call it: Ring My Bell At The Reception Desk. It would be about avoyeuristic and handsome hotel concierge that somehow manages to have lots of erotic encounters with the attractive female guests who want to “check in”.

An eager plea from our Concierge: Please rate us 5 stars, please. Tell your friends, if you like it.

Photo: Jaakko Nikkilä
Text: Salvador Esparza & Todd Elliott

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Meet the Pilot

Pilot portraitLadies and gentlemen, this is your Pilot, played by Tom Gilder, speaking. We are about to experience some turbulence at The Reading, so please wear your seatbelts. Or something.

When asked about his favorite line as the eccentric pilot, Tom quotes: “Gentlemen, thank the overlord Belrog that I’ve found you!”

And as if you needed any more reason to question the sanity of this character, Tom’s favorite Pilot moment is when he is controlling the weather! Or… well… erm, trying to.

You’d think that a seasoned pilot would start to be a bit particular about where he lays his head at the end of a long day of having people’s lives in his hands, but when asked about his hotel preferences, our pilot reports that anything goes! As long as it’s near an airport, preferably with a view of the runway. By far his favourite hotel is JumboStay in Stockholm…. where he loves to stay in a decommissioned 747.

Now, imagine this. Our Pilot has a very exciting pitch for what could be the hottest new erotic novel on the market. It would be called: Enter the Cockpit: Engage Full Thrust — the scandalous story of a lonely pilot stranded in a remote airport during a snow storm, with only the four flight attendants for company. The heating fails, they need to huddle close for warmth, and someone suggests raiding the drinks trolley. And before you know it, there’s a demonstration of how to pull the… straps… to tighten. Raise the landing gear, extend the flaps, and be prepared for someone attending to every aisle. Just be sure to apply your protective equipment before seeing to others: for a safe flight, and to ensure there’s no baggage to collect later.

As for his stay at the Hollydae’In, the Pilot gives it 33.35 picostars! Wait… what? Sorry, he needs a drink.

Photo: Jaakko Nikkilä
Text: Salvador Esparza & Tom Gilder

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Meet The Musician

Musician portraitMeet the Musician, as performed by Magdalena Grajcar.

No truer words have been spoken than the Musician's eloquent "No, wait, it's me that's lonely...", which just so happens to be Magdalena's favorite line as she personifies our indie music legend.

When it comes to defining her favorite moment as the Hollydae'In's in-house celebrity, she resorts to a pivotal moment of self-expression: "You said I'm one note? Here's one note!" *pushing a key angrily*

Despite finding employment at the Hollydae'In, our Musician feels most at home at a Choice Hotels (just don't tell the Concierge).

When asked what the Musician's erotic novel would be called, she quickly retorts with: "Mysterious Extra Toothbrush and Where to Shove It" - a novel inspired by a real breakup story.

On a scale of 1–5, she gives the Hollydae'In a 2. She doesn't really want to be there, but hey, they pay and even musicians have got to eat.

Photo: Jaakka Nikkilä
Text: Salvador Esparza & Magdalena Grajcar

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A Letter from the Playwright, Leben Norrie

20211123 Playwright letterAugust 2019: I sat down on my couch and hammered out the first draft of The Reading over three days. As I was trapped in some sort of inspired whirlwind, I really had to get my ideas down while they were fresh.

A few days earlier, I had been enjoying movie three of The Nightmare on Elm Street horror film franchise, aptly named Dream Warriors, with my friend Salvador. At this point, our friendship had only recently blossomed during our time working together on the local Helsinki production of the musical Falsettos. We both had a shared love for horror films. We were also both very vocal movie viewers so we would trade comments and remarks as the films played out. At one point the subtitles read “[The Pebble Clatters]” and Salvador offhandedly said “I’d love to write some erotic fiction one day, and I’d call it As the Pebble Clatters.”

This comment ignited a theatrical fire under my ass: I was going to create a world in which there was, in fact, an erotic novel called As The Pebble Clatters. Having just recently finished reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s Breakfast of Champions for the umpteenth time, I wanted to put a variety of weird and wonderful (yet apparently normal) people into a bottle. I wanted them isolated. Little did I know that, in reality, the world itself ended up being trapped at the metaphorical Hollydae’In for the next year.

So I put it all down on paper, being the excitable knob that I am, I couldn’t wait to unleash it upon my friends and family, I started avidly sharing my progress with anyone willing to receive a file. We had an official play reading in December of 2019. Everything I love about live theatre was seemingly crammed into the pages as were countless pop cultural, literary and personal references. The Stoned Bellhops, for example, are modeled after my two good friends of mine Ninny and Kitten (the latter of whom was actually a bellhop at one point). Their demeanor and use of certain additives in their daily lives is evident in the play. I also drew a lot of inspiration from Vonnegut’s style, his sarcasm, his satire and characters literally having no real idea what is going on, even when they are sure they do.

What came next was 2020, fresh back from a family visit to Australia, I was ready to put in some work and get this play produced. We all know what happened next.

In hindsight, the good to come out of it in regards to The Reading was time to marinate. Time to go over it and hone it down into a more viable shape. Zach from the Finn Brit Players had given me some very good tips on character development, as well as a prophetic audience perspective on how certain characters may be unintentionally perceived. I also started furiously trading the script backwards and forwards with Salvador and my childhood friend Leon, and the script started to evolve.

I really did try to put my heart into this piece; each of the characters have some sort of place in my life in the real world. I named the married couple Frederick and Margaret Rosewater, the first names are for myself and my wife, and their surname puts my play somewhere in the Vonnegut universe. The Rosewaters, in Vonnegut's world, are a very well-to-do Midwestern family that made their fortune as venture-capitalists. The Reading’s Frederick, is a distant cousin of Eliot Rosewater, the protagonist in Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr Rosewater. Frederick also shares my all-consuming obsession that I get over certain things at times; but his is turned up to 11.

You can catch references to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Sopranos, The Simpsons, the works of Robert A Heinlein, Absurdism, Slapstick and dry British humor; as well as certain things that may personally annoy me and general knowledge. “Wohoo Facts!”

I’m not embarrassed to say that I find this script hilarious. Now, seeing it played out by this myriad of talented actors, I’m certain it’s going to be absolute delight to audiences. I also love the fact that I must add a content warning: Drug Use, Strong Language, Alcohol Consumption and Sexual References. Told you it was everything I love to see in the theatre.

The Reading is a dish best served live.

Text: Leben Norrie
Photo: Jaakko Nikkilä

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