For a playwright, having your work performed by grassroots theater companies around the globe can be a serious resume builder. That's one reason local ensemble Raconteur Theatre, which largely performs contemporary plays by living writers, receives hundreds of scripts.

For a playwright, having your work performed by grassroots theater companies around the globe can be a serious resume builder. That's one reason local ensemble Raconteur Theatre, which largely performs contemporary plays by living writers, receives hundreds of scripts.

But the process of wading through those submissions, as well as local pieces and others that ensemble members have found, can be daunting.

"We would find some that we were interested in, but we were unsure if it worked as well as it seemed to on paper, or if it would go over with an audience," said artistic director Jill C. Hartley.

So this summer, Raconteur decided to hold free, monthly, live readings of plays that it might consider producing down the line. Audiences have an opportunity to sit in and give written or verbal feedback, while members of the company get a stronger sense of a given piece by hearing it.

"We find that it's just better to hear a script aloud, that gives us a better feel for it and whether or not it works," said Hartley. In some cases, they may be considering a play for an upcoming season; in others, "we put it in a batch of plays that we are interested in to see where it might fit correctly."

Gathering in an intimate room in the basement of Gresso's, where the audience can grab a drink before settling in, the actors sit at a well-lit table. Scripts are read without any rehearsal or significant preparations, generally by regular members of Raconteur's ensemble.

"We wanted to make sure that we had people who were good readers and potentially good fits, character-wise," Hartley said.

There's a sense that you're seeing a stripped-down play, not a cold reading. In addition to the actors, one person on the panel reads the notes in the script about the stage set, blocking, lighting and other action.

Last month, John Lane's one-act play Isosceles painted a surprisingly human picture of a bizarre love triangle between a brother and sister and another man. November's selection is also a one-act, Wonk Love by Tom Baum, performed by two characters.

"It is sort of a different take on interracial and inter-political relationships," said Hartley. "We don't do a lot of very abstract things - we do like looking at issues and trying to touch on stories that maybe don't get hit elsewhere."