SHOWING : July 15, 2018 - July 16, 2018
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The seventh annual one-minute play festival in Atlanta!
Clump 1, directed by Damian Lockhart:
"A Little Light Surfing" by Nicole B. Adkins
"Big, Beautiful, Terrifying" by Peter Dakutis
"Offensive" by Daniel Guyton
"It’s Just Too Awful" by Hillary R. Heath
"There is No Theatre" by Johnny Drago
"Sstop" by Lee Nowell
Clump 2, directed by Carolyn Sheppard Choe:
"Your Obedient Servant" by Keely L. Herrick
"Love You Miss You" by Michael Henry Harris
"Swingers Party of the Future" by Mike Schatz
"Homewrecker" by Jessica DeMaria
"The Interloper" by Lee Lyons
Clump 3, directed by Kiernan Matts, assistant directed by Holly Tatem:
"Exposure" by Jacob York
"United Public Radio" by Grant McGowen
"Is It in Your Hands" by Sloka Krishnan
"Pour Me Another One" by Emily Kleypas
"Gallery" by Crystal Jin Kim
"Public Art" by Annie Harrison Elliott
Clump 4, directed by Matthew Busch:
"The Buy" by Sarah Beth Hester
"(non)STOP" by Cameryn Richardson
"Rules of the Game" by Seth Langer
"Relief" by Liz Schad
"Tired" by Pat Young
"Keys" by Patrick Morgan
Clump 5, directed by Julie Skrzypek, stage managed by Cassie Corlett:
"Me Too" by Mia Kristen Smith
"Crucibled" by Matthew Myers
"Miss America 2.0" by Nedra Pezold Roberts
"Mother Theresa" by Jill Patrick
"Following Orders" by Katherine Brokaw
"$7.25" by Neeley Gosset
Clump 6, directed by Mary Saville:
"Be a Man" by Sarah Alison Hodges
"Miskito Karma" by Brandon Mitchell
"MARS" by Adam Jaffe
"DESERVING DESIRE" by Peter Hardy
"Lets Play Monster" by Greg Carraway
Clump 7, directed by Justin Kalin:
"The Mass Extinction Club" by Dani Herd
"Mindful" by Josh Mikel
"Strangers" by Jordan Pulliam
"Apocalypse" by Rachel Frawley
"Hands Off Mr. Rogers" by Pamela Turner
"Temp Job" by SHerri d. Sutton
Clump 8, directed by Grant McGowan:
"This Is My America" by Steven Brown
"Not Even the Half of It" by Nick Boretz
"Australia" by Hannah Church
"Order Up!" by Laura King
"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit Of" by Chris Schulz
"Nursery Rhymes" by Laura Meyers
Clump 9, directed by Brian Ashton Smith:
"Here, Here" by John Goode
"Line Breaker" by Andy Fleming
"You’ve Got It All Wrong" by Tramine Brathwaite
"Mask Off" by Amina McIntyre
"The .2% Solution" by Hank Kimmel
"Definitions" by Jasmine Waters
Clump 10, directed by Hillary R. Heath:
"Competitive Bickering" by Rachel Graf Evans
"Hard Candy" by Steve Yockey
"New Deal" by Robin Seidman Pullen
"Truth" by Vaness Aranegui
"My Favorite Thing" by Nicole Kemper
"It Me; I’m That" by Jake Krakovsky
"When They Ask" by Topher Payne
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Tiny Wastes of Time|
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 ||
When you have sixty plays presented in a short (75-minute) production, none of them is going to have an overwhelming impact. And unless a play has a title very evocative of its content, it may be well-nigh impossible to remember it after leaving the theatre and reviewing the program. This year’s selection of plays do pretty well on the memorability scale.|
Each play tends to gravitate to some point on the scale between stylized seriousness and off-the-cuff satire. A few plays are so idiosyncratic that you would probably have to tunnel into the playwright’s brain to make much sense of them. With a different director and cast for each "clump" of six plays, the constant variety will either be energizing or wearying, depending on how quickly your brain adapts to sudden tonal shifts.
Since the plays are performed on the "Color Purple" set, which seats audience on two sides of the playing space, facing one another, the directors were faced with some blocking challenges. Some choose to play most action in profile to both sides of the audience; others use constant circular movements to ensure even visibility. The only true blocking misstep I noticed was in Grant McGowen’s clump 8 (I believe in Chris Schulz’s "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit Of"), where a central figure declaimed on the central platform while two men appeared to be mimicking his speech on either side of the platform. With both men’s backs to the same side of the audience for the entire time, the intended effect was lost.
Damian Lockhart has staged the first clump around the ever-present use of cellphones. The entire cast swarms around the playing space with great fluidity, making this a terrific introduction to the energy that will be on display throughout the evening. Ocean surfing poses as the actors surf the web give a little extra spark to the first playlet ("A little Light Surfing" by Nicole B. Adkins), but the most pointed selection I found to be Daniel Guyton’s "Offensive," in which a woman rails against a Facebook friend for not deleting a post she finds offensive. This first clump emphasizes how social media can tend to increase the alienation of groups of people with opposite points of view. None of the other clumps seem to have such a clear-cut thematic association among the plays in the clump.
The second clump has nice staging by Carolyn Choe of the elegiac "Love You Miss You" by Michael Henry Harris, in which Betty Mitchell stands on the central platform, turning to face speakers at the four corners of the platform as they address her. "Swingers Party of the Future" by Mike Schatz is cutely realized, as humans and sex robots mix and mingle. Another memorable play in this clump shows a somewhat pedantic father and a petulant daughter at a restaurant prior to attending a production of "Hamilton." Unfortunately, this play does not have a sufficiently memorable title (I’d guess it’s either "Homewrecker" or "The Interloper").
Kiernan Matts puts his directorial stamp on clump 3 by using picture frames that actors hold up to their faces to indicate artworks. Not all the plays are museum-related, though; the first is Jacob York’s shamelessly self-promoting "Exposure" and the second is Grant McGowen’s rather obvious NPR parody "United Public Radio." The third is Sloka Krishnan’s weirdly surreal "Is It in Your Hands," in which singing voices are presumed to be possessions kept in tightly clasped hands or satchels. The rest of the plays have more of the museum feel.
Clump 4, directed by Mathew Busch, is not terribly memorable overall. Sarah Beth Hester’s "The Busy" is nicely realized, with a couple receiving the dread diagnosis of being "busy" and being told that the cure is the word "no," each time intoned with the same comic solemnity. This is one of the few selections that actually comes across as a true play, with a beginning, middle, and clear end. Seth Langer’s "Rules of the Game" rather lamely presents us with people explaining the "simple" rules of a shape/color matching game. I have only vague memories of the other selections in this clump.
The fifth clump, directed by Julie Skrzypek, is very well-acted throughout. Mia Kristen Smith’s "Me Too" has some true bite and poignancy in presenting reactions of people in the "me too" movement. Matthew Myers’ "Crucibled" and Nedra Pezold Roberts’ "Miss America 2.0" are both rather obvious commentaries, but come across extremely well in the acting. Jill Patrick’s distasteful "Mother Theresa" is a low point of the evening, but only because of content, not because of acting or direction.
The sixth clump is probably the least memorable of the clumps, with un-evocative titles the norm. "Be a Man" and "Let’s Play Monster" are exceptions, and the titles pretty much tell the entire content of these plays. Rebekah Suellau’s "it goes like" is the most entertaining, as singing-challenged Matthew Myers is coerced into attempting to warble a tune. Mary Saville’s direction is fine throughout, making good use of the playing space.
Clump 7, directed by Justin Kalin, just might be the most successful of the clumps. Dani Herd’s "The Mass Extinction Club" shows us a couple of conversing dinosaurs (one sporting a feather boa), and it starts the clump off winningly. "Hands Off Mr. Rogers," by Pamela Turner, has a sourness in comparing Mr. Rogers to a pedophile, but the closing "Temp Job" by Sherri d. Sutton takes a delightful view at the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse when Death is replaced by a temp worker.
The eighth clump has some of the weakest material (and acting) in the show. Grant McGowan’s direction can’t make Hannah Church’s gun-rights-inspired "Australia" or Laura King’s silly "Order Up!" come to life. Only Laura Meyers’ final play in this clump, "Nursery Rhymes" has real impact, as it shows children reacting to a school lockdown.
Brian Ashton Smith has directed the ninth clump with barely a touch of humor. Even Andy Fleming’s "Line Breaker," which shows a person who has cut line being berated by another person, who then cuts in line, ends on a flat note. Amina McIntyre’s "Mask Off" and Hank Kimmel’s "The .2% Solution" emphasize the bleak tone of these selections.
The last clump has excellent direction by Hillary R. Heath. None of the material is terribly engaging, but the actors are engaging and elevate the material. The gobstopper-vs.-jawbreaker argument of Steven Yockey’s "Hard Candy" is far more a sketch than a play, and Nicole Kemper’s "My Favorite Thing" has a vagueness that keeps the material from catching fire. This tenth clump moves seamlessly into Topher Payne’s "When They Ask," a finale that asserts the primacy of the artist before devolving into a cacophony of seventy-plus shouting actors trooping onto the stage.
One-minute play festivals aren’t for everyone. If you go to the theater to get caught up in a fictional world that will keep you transfixed for a couple of hours, you’ll be sadly disappointed. On the other hand, if you have the attention span of a flea, you might delight in the ever-changing theatrical landscape. The 2018 festival showcases good, fluid direction above all else. Acting is generally fine, and there are enough nuggets of insight in some of the one-minute plays to provide a good impression overall. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
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