A recent press release from The Broad Stage caught my eye: local theater company Santa Monica Rep will occupy the Broad Stage’s smaller black box theater, the Edye, for a series of four staged play readings that reflect the national conversation.

Given the somewhat humbler venues where I’ve seen their work before, that sounded like good news, so I set out to interview artistic director Eric Bloom.

Founded in 2009 and known primarily for producing staged readings, notably at Santa Monica Public Library, Santa Monica Rep also did some main stage productions. But the strain of succeeding and growing too quickly took its toll.

“We’ve been on production hiatus for about two years, ironically right after we received our nonprofit status,” Bloom said in a phone interview. “But we’ve continued doing readings at the library and for small donor events at The Broad.”

The new series at the Edye draws on the company’s signature mix of classic and contemporary dramas across different decades. Each has a timeless quality that resonates with the issues and events we’re dealing with today.

Bloom describes the Edye season: “We’re starting with Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘The Skin of our Teeth,’ about how humanity is constantly escaping impending disaster, but just barely.” (There’s a lead character who might remind audiences of a certain presidential candidate, he told me.)

Adapted by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Company, “The Grapes of Wrath” is based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Bloom said the Dust Bowl-era drama “is about income inequality, the working poor and what government should provide to the most vulnerable amongst us, how capitalism can be a force for good but has winners and losers. And this is a huge discussion we’re having right now.

“And ‘The Heidi Chronicles’ and Sarah Ruhl’s ‘The Vibrator Play’ are really both about women’s rights, sexual freedom and privacy, which are oddly still topics we’re having disagreements about today,” he said.

One bonus of the Broad relationship is its connection to the larger theater world.

“For example,” Bloom said, “they reached out to Randall Arney (artistic director at Geffen Playhouse) who was at Steppenwolf for the original production, to lead a post-show discussion about ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ That’s a really exciting opportunity for us.”

Readings serve a multitude of purposes, Bloom said.

“Technically they’re much easier to produce,” he said. “They’re low-risk, high-impact events that give you an opportunity to hear the playwright’s words in a way you don’t always have when you add the distractions of scenery and design. Here it’s just about the actor and the playwright, which is important to us because our company is made up mostly of actors. It also lets us test material on our audience, to see what they respond to and to get feedback quickly.”

Readings at Santa Monica Public Library particularly align Santa Monica Rep with its newly crafted mission: “To provide free programming for this community, especially for those in need,” Bloom said. “The library brings us a unique, intelligent, attentive crowd that asks probing questions. After five years we’ve gotten to know these dedicated people who wouldn’t necessarily come to a main stage or a $25 performance at the Edye, but at the library they’re there every single time. That’s why we started the company, to create a more engaged and inquisitive community and we find that very clearly at the library.”

And, he added, “The plays we’re producing at the Edye will also be offered at the library this summer.”

But why a repertory company?

“The idea grew out of the regional theater scene, with resident ensemble companies performing all the plays in the season,” Bloom said. “They have a strong presence in the community, the audience gets to know them over a period of time, creating a deeper engagement, along with cultural outreach opportunities. So this is our big-picture, long-term goal.”

And while the Edye is a great step up, Santa Monica Rep ideally hopes eventually to have its own venue.

“Earlier this year, we decided it was either time to go forward or let it go,” Bloom said. “The feedback from members, actors, donors, designers, supporters and others was so positive, all saying, ‘Keep it going.’”

With a new core team of administrators, Bloom and his wife and partner Jen Bloom can focus on what they do best: “season planning, script reading, casting and representing the company to the public,” he said.

In a first for the company, it’s presenting a piece at The Hollywood Fringe Festival, “Sexy Maus,” by Andrea Schell, who appeared in their main stage production of “Proof.” She created a one-woman show based on her experience of a sexual awakening during a trip to Europe at age 40.

Bloom said that, originally, “We thought we would concentrate on producing within Santa Monica. But we realized there were opportunities out there we weren’t taking advantage of, which could help us expand our reach and get our name out as we look toward announcing a complete season next year.”

I also wanted to know what it’s like being married to and working with your artistic and life partner.

“She’s a director by trade but also has a master’s in acting and I’m an actor learning to become a director,” Bloom said. “We haven’t gotten to work together as director and actor nearly enough, and going forward with this new structure, we’ll have more of an opportunity to do that. We have a solid working and loving relationship.”

Santa Monica Rep’s Play Reading Series takes place at the Edye on four Sundays at 2 p.m. through September, beginning June 12 with “The Skin of Our Teeth.” Tickets are $25. For details, call (310) 434-3200 or visit www.thebroadstage.com.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications. Email her at culturewatch@www.smdp.com.