A Night of Short Plays That Could Only Add Up To Absolute Dismay.
We’ve gotten into a little tradition of winter one-acts in the last few years. Actually, with this being the third year, I think it will officially become tradition.
In the past, we’ve done lots of Shakespeare. We’ve even done seasons where we did nothing BUT Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong – we love Shakespeare. But it’s not all we do. We’ve also done Pinter, Stoppard, Miller…great writers. However, the one-acts show came about because we wanted to do more than just modern playwrights’ works.
We wanted to do some stuff that no one had ever seen. At least, no one around here had ever seen.
I think Heather originally put the idea out there. I used to work with a company in Greensboro, American Distractions, that did nothing but original works. They were often short plays rolled into an evening with a theme of some sort: monologues about giving something up, a collection of plays that all took place in various storage units at a storage facility.
These were always popular shows over there. I personally think it can be really exciting as an audience member to walk into a theater and really have no idea what you are about to see. There’s an anything-can-happen sort of vibe that can be a very interesting energy to work with.
Bare Theatre’s first venture into the world of original one-acts was in 2010, with an innocently-titled show called Boys and Girls. The three plays that made up that program were so dark and disturbing, I remember looking around at the actors after our very first read-through and seeing the same look on everyone’s face. It was a horrified and yet excited expression that somehow asked “Are we really going to do this?”
In three short plays, Boys and Girls covered death, loss, grief, stalking, murder, abuse, drug use, rape…and then we let the audience decide whether to kill the main character in the last play (Carmen’s “Ask Him in the Morning”). Every other night, the audience passed judgement and decided he should die, in which case his scene partner shot him in the head with a pistol, leaving him face-down in his own blood. No curtain call. Sometimes the audience would clap, sometimes they would just get up and walk out in silence. All good reactions as far as we were concerned.
Last year’s collection was decidedly lighter, so we called it Oh Sh!t, It’s Another Evening of One-Act Plays. While there were some dark twists in the evening, most of the show was comedic.
This year, we are presenting another blend of twisted, hilarious and sad. It could only be called One Night of Absolute Dismay.
With this trajectory, I just want to call next year’s show Aaaggghhhhhhrrhrhhr!!!!!
Our main goal in choosing plays is that we want the directors and artists involved to really be passionate about what they are doing. We have found that trying to plug a season and hire directors to do plays they didn’t choose (and hence haven’t been thinking about) just doesn’t quite bring enough excitement to the project. This show is a lab of sorts, and we want to let the artists try some new stuff, push some boundaries, and go for it.
So, this time around we have three original works by playwrights who have more or less of a connection to the area, and a parody from a well-known author:
“Hot Greek Porn,” by Lucius Robinson and Rajeev Rajendran, is being created for this show and will be presented in installments throughout the evening. Drawing from material ranging from the pornographic films of Kostas Gousgouni to the dark agenda of the instigators of the European debt crisis, no one will be spared.
“Everything Seems So Plausible At 1 A.M.,” by Ben Ferber and Donnie McEwan, is a fast-paced short that, well, you really just need to see. Larry the Lawyer is awakened in the middle of the night by Bob the Banker, Sam the Surgeon, and Emily the Ex-Wife – all of whom need immediate legal advice and protection from a killer, who happens to be one of them.
“Letter From The Editor,” by Mora Harris, is a sometimes humorous, sometimes dark look into faith and belief. An affluent Christian married couple finds their faith in God and each other tested when the husband brings a homeless man into their house.
“For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls,” by Christopher Durang, is a demented twist on a famous play from his collection, Durang Durang. In this parody of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, fading southern belle Amanda desperately tries to prepare her hyper-sensitive, hypochondriacal son Lawrence for “the feminine caller,” who turns out to be a hard-of-hearing dinner guest invited by Amanda’s ambiguously gay son, Tom.
Rehearsals have been a blast so far. More details to come…