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Playwrights’ Lab presents staged reading

The staged reading of When Liberty Is Sieged by John Paul Mandryk was postponed after this release was written. This page has been edited to reflect the new date and time of the reading, Monday, December 5, 2022 at 7:30pm.

July 28, 2022 – The Live Arts Playwrights’ Lab is excited to present a staged reading of When Liberty Is Sieged, a new one-act play of verse by John Paul Mandryk. The reading will begin at 7:30pm on Monday, December 5, 2022, at Vault Virginia, 300 E Main Street, in Charlottesville. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can with a suggested ticket price of $5, available through the Live Arts Box Office at or by phone at 434-977-4177. Tickets will also be available at the door (cash only).   

Playwrights’ Lab is a forum for writers of every experience level to share, read, and discuss their work. The Lab develops the work of local writers of all backgrounds in a fun, creative, supportive setting.

The Lab’s reading of When Liberty Is Sieged is directed by Dawn Schimke and produced by Sean Michael McCord. It showcases local performers and Lab members Mandy Shuker as Kenau, Roger Tolle as Governor Ripperda, James Sanford as Lucifer, Ron Berube as Cardinal Granvelle, and Christopher Baumer as The Iron Duke.

“I became a capital-P Playwright thanks to Live Arts and the Playwrights’ Lab, and I am always excited for any opportunity to help a fellow playwright bring their work to a live venue,” says producer and Lab member Sean Michael McCord. “Audiences will definitely find contemporary resonances in John Mandryk’s thoughtful story of a group of European citizens banding together to defend their community against an invading army.”

About the Play

Who wins when two opposing ideologies are both convinced that God is on their side?  The central character of When Liberty Is Sieged is Kenau Hasselaer, a widowed mother of four from Haarlem, the Netherlands, who faces the Spanish inquisition of the mid-16th century. Her story begins with her silence in the face of Spanish and Catholic domination and ends with her rallying 300 women to join the rebel garrison in defense of Haarlem’s walls. After the Haarlemers are starved into surrender, Kenau escapes by divine intervention. What happens next is a miracle. 

About The Playwright 

John Paul Mandryk resides in Charlottesville with his wife, Joan, of 48 years. Retired from a 35-year career in investment banking, his engagement in playwriting began by joining the Live Arts Playwrights’ Lab, a forum for local writers to discuss original works in a community of fellow playwrights. Mandryk’s works cover topics including the denial of climate change and the miracle of the migration of storks from northern Europe to southern Africa. If he is not at his writing desk, he might be found building wooden boats in his workshop or spinning tales to one of his five grandchildren.

About The Director 

Dawn Schimke discovered her love for directing in 2018, and is excited to partner with the Playwright’s Lab in developing this new and innovative work. Previous Playwrights’ Lab directing credits include Seek Immediate Shelter by Julius Neeley, Marjorie Is Dead by Priyanka Shetty, The Brownies by Courtney Jett-Walker, A Child’s Play by Jess Miller. Dawn was the assistant director for HAND TO GOD at Live Arts (2018). 

About Live Arts 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating 32 years of forging theater and community. The 2022/23 Transformations Season is made possible by season sponsors Elizabeth and Joe LeVaca, media sponsors C-VILLE Weekly and WTJU 91.1FM, pay-what-you-can sponsor Ting, education sponsor The Local, IT partner PJ Networks Computer Services. The season is sponsored by Allison Partners, The Caplin Foundation, Chaski Global, Pamela Friedman and Ronald Bailey, Barbara and Jay Kessler, Latitude 38, The Madwoman Project at CACF, Panorama Consulting, Silverchair, Strauss Construction, Woodard Properties, George Worthington and Cameron Mowat, and philanthropic gifts by hundreds of theater lovers in our community.

Live Arts is supported by grants from Albemarle County, the BamaWorks Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the DN Batten Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, and Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

About Vault Virginia 

Vault Virginia is a membership-based workspace and social club where carefully designed office, coworking, gallery, and event spaces inspire creativity, cultivate curiosity, and promote connection. The Guild at Vault Virginia is a community membership designed to bring everyone together around ideas, culture, and enriching experiences. With room on Vault Virginia’s 1st Floor for casual work and meeting space throughout the day, member-driven programming throughout the month, and hospitality from The Bradbury Café, this warm and accessible concept promises to be a unique place of connection for many years to come.

For more information, please contact Marketing & Design Coordinator Katie Rogers at or visit 

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