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Actors to read from Jay Craven’s new script Nov. 19 in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven has announced a free work-in-progress script reading in Middlebury for his next planned film project, “Wetware,” a noir thriller set in the near future and based on Craig Nova’s novel of the same name. The reading will feature local actors, and will take place from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Town Hall Theater. This is the second of two readings; the first is on Nov. 15 in Burlington.
“Wetware” will be set in a not-too-distant future where there are jobs that no one wants and people at the end of their rope who will do anything for a sense of security and wellbeing. Enter Galapagos Wetware, a cutting-edge genetic engineering firm where people down on their luck apply for alterations that help them handle the small stuff like mopping up crime scenes and dealing with toxic cleanups — and more demanding tasks as boots-on-the-ground against infectious diseases, climate eruptions and resource wars.
With business booming, genetic programmer Hal Briggs is charged with developing more sophisticated prototypes, Jack and Kay. Prominent clients anxiously away these deluxe models, to conduct high-level espionage and counter-terrorism. Briggs is good, but he’s under pressure and begins to alter some genetic codes, adding qualities to Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment.
Briggs’ boss, Leslie Carr, has problems of her own. She manages a thorny relationship with money wizard Wendell Blaine. Blaine knows the score but he and Carr tangle over field tests, deadlines, specs and a hidden connection that complicates things. Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work on them.
Where have Jack and Kay gone? And what do they know? Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes, save his job, and deflect the outrage at Galapagos. And, as he reexamines Jack and Kay’s codes, he makes a terrifying and provocative discovery that will change everything.
“This is an unusual project for me,” said director and producer Jay Craven, “having made five Vermont pictures from Howard Mosher novels. And my latest film tells a 19th-century story by Guy de Maupassant, set on Nantucket. But I hope Vermonters will share my curiosity and enthusiasm for tackling this new film that promises to be timely, rich in characterization, and resonant in surprising ways. It’s also a story that interests young people — a lot.”
“‘Wetware’s’ vivid characters are originals,” Craven said. “They’re flawed, dimensional and a little absurd. Craig Nova’s replicant Mungos resemble Beckett’s bumbling tramps in “‘Waiting for Godot,’ stuck along the road looking for answers to questions they don’t know. ‘Wetware’ digs into fertile themes of love, work and freedom, genetic engineering, social costs of living in a wired age, the power of music, and what it is to be human in trying times. I also promise a few good laughs.”
“Wetware” is scheduled for production next spring, through the Movies from Marlboro program, where 20 professionals mentor and collaborate with 30 students from multiple colleges to make a feature film for national release. This innovative program is produced by KCP and Marlboro College and it’s inspired by Vermont education philosopher John Dewey’s call for “intensive learning that enlarges meaning through the shared experience of joint action.” Production is currently planned for Vermont, Montreal and Nantucket.
Previous films produced through Movies from Marlboro include Craven’s 2013 film, “Northern Borders,” with Bruce Dern and Genevieve Bujold, and his 2015 picture “Peter and John,” with Jacqueline Bisset. For the winter/spring production of “Wetware,” students are planning to attend from Marlboro College, Wellesley, Boston College, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, Lyndon State College, Fitchburg State, Augsburg College, Wesleyan University, Colby-Sawyer, Simmons College, Ithaca College, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Kingdom County Productions will chart multiple distribution paths for “Wetware,” including its unusual barnstorming tours throughout New England and New York. KCP is also taking new steps for a still-emerging partnership with Vermont PBS. KCP will use “Wetware” to chart new strategies to reach younger audiences, with help from the program’s students. Craven will share details at the readings. Admission to the staged readings is free and there will be refreshments served. RSVPs, to Kyla Jarrett ([email protected]) at KCP, are appreciated.
Additional readings will be announced for later this fall and early 2016 in St. Johnsbury, Montpelier, Brattleboro, Rutland, and other towns. For information about the readings or about “Wetware,” go to KingdomCounty.org or contact Jay Craven at [email protected]. For more information about the Movies from Marlboro program, go to Movies.Marlboro.edu.

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