Between the Lines: Write Out Loud

| October 29, 2013 | 0 Comments


2012 Voices of Ireland photo provided by John Bryant.

2012 Voices of Ireland photo provided by John Bryant.

“All of us were read to as children—why did it stop?” asks Veronica Murphy, artistic director and co-founder of Write Out Loud. Murphy and co-founder/ Executive Director Walter Ritter have guided San Diego’s unique reading theatre in presenting a diverse mix of programs for adults and children since its formation in 2007.

Highlights of Write Out Loud’s successful programs include the annual Twain Festival, started in 2010 in honor of Mark Twain’s Centennial. More than 6,000 people participated in the fourth annual TwainFest held this past August in Old Town. The month-long series of events included games and a spelling bee and featured not just Mark Twain but other 19th-century writers like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

A two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Arts enabled Write Out Loud, in partnership with San Diego Public Library, to participate in The Big Read. “Shades of Poe” was the 2012 focus, and this year it featured “Fahrenheit 451,” Ray Bradbury’s 1953 futuristic chiller. In 24 events held over the month of April, participants were asked to consider, “Which book would you save from the flames?”

Murphy and Ritter bring extensive histories in San Diego theatre to this all-volunteer nonprofit organization and have assembled a corps of readers who are among San Diego’s most accomplished stage performers. More than just readings, these expertly staged and delivered programs might be seen as “short story concerts.”

Write Out Loud’s seventh season is presently underway and includes some exciting programs. Until mid-November they’re leading community reads of the new “One Book, One San Diego” selection, “Caleb’s Crossing” by Geraldine Brooks, at the Solana Beach & University Community branch libraries.

On November 4, “Orpheus Speaks” is a program of stories dealing with the arts and artists, from rarely heard classics to new and contemporary treasures. December is the time for

“The Giving Season,” stories for Christmas, Hanukkah, and the end of the year. The season continues through next June and includes a Valentine’s Day program, “Voices of Ireland” for St. Patrick’s Day, and more. You can learn more at

Performances are held at the Old Town/Cygnet Theatre and at three new venues around the county: the Athenaeum in La Jolla, North Coast Rep in Solana Beach, and Scripps Ranch Theatre.

Ritter and Murphy are looking ahead, too, with planning for the 2014-15 season and for some creative educational programs. Murphy was excited when she told me about plans to use Kamishibai in the schools. Kamishibai, which means story box or paper stories, is a form of storytelling that originated in Japan, using large illustrated cards to aid storytelling.

The success of Write Out Loud makes clear that audiences in San Diego County are enthusiastic about the experience of being read to. Really, I can’t resist—can you?

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