Sunday, January 17, 2010

- Theater Review - Playwriting Festival

The Corn Stock Winter Playhouse has a deal for you.

Not one.
Not three.
Nor even five plays.

Their currently running "Playwriting Festival" features EIGHT plays for one admission. These short one-act plays are first run performances presented as a competition for budding playwrights. These eight plays are the products of five different writers. I had assumed that all of the playwrights were local and was somewhat disappointed to discover that most are not. It is intended that this will become an annual event, so hopefully, there will be more local writers entering next year's competition.
The audiences decide the competition by voting for their three favorites.

The eight plays are:

"When Jason Was In Kindergarten" by Carey Daniels
Jason's prison guard father shows up on career day to regale the kiddies with tales of the big house, including the difference between a shiv and a shank, the intricacies of prison sex, and the grisliest crime he knows of.

"Janitor and Grad Student" by Gordon Petry
A sweet romantic tale about a chance encounter that explores assumptions about class, gender, and career aspirations.

"Catch and Release" by Carey Daniels
An unsettling story about an abusive father who takes to heart the adage "Give a man a fish and he eats for one day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime." You can bet his kids will indeed remember this lesson for the rest of their lives.

"Shoot" by Neal Ryan Shaw
A somewhat puzzling short about a photographer who asks an author friend to photograph him for his book jacket. He has photographed her for her jacket photo previously and now the tables have turned.

"Optimism" by Patrick Mark Mullowney
Grandma Crenshaw plots world domination, but only if she can sell the grandkids into white slavery.

"You Don't Remember Me, Do You?" by Gary Hale
A man celebrating a new home purchase with a friend encounters a waitress whom he can't quite remember, although she implies their past involvement was much more than casual.

"No(ah) Complaints" by Gordon Petry
Noah along with his wife and three sons delivers some Old Testament shtick.

"Red, Blue, Whatever" by Gary Hale
A scathing yet hilarious indictment of Republican and Democratic strategists from 1994. Red state, blue state, they're all the same, and the players are all dogs!

Although the choice is tough, my three votes go to:

#1 "You Don't Remember Me, Do You? - clever, funny and the most perfectly cast of the entries.
#2 "Janitor and Grad Student" - some might say too schmaltzy. I say charming, simple and sweet.
#3 "When Jason Was in Kindergarten" - funny and irreverent. The actors capture their inner child perfectly (especially Jeff Craig).

This festival is a great idea. There are ample opportunities in the area for aspiring actors and many opportunities for aspiring directors. Now we have an event offering recognition to aspiring playwrights.

Eight great plays for only ten bucks!?
Don't miss out on this deal!
And take your friends along to the upper Bradley Park theater next weekend.

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