Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco: Eight Plays in 24 Hours–try it, you’ll LOVE it!
“Time is just nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once.”
In case of the talents producing the 24 Hour Play Festival at the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco, who needs time anyway? Twenty-four hours is such a small slice of it, here-and-gone before you know it.
Picture this: a little over twenty-four hours ago, starting at precisely 8:00 p.m. Friday night, the names of eight of the Center’s gang of playwrights were drawn out of a hat. Literally, out of a silk topper. Those eight were assigned a theme, unknown to any of them before that moment: “The Devil Made Me Do It!” Now each of the playwrights pulls the name of a director from that hat. Now each director draws the names of actors from. . . .
Deadline for script delivery: 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
No matter if the genders, ages, or other physical attributes of the actors drawn matched the requirements of the scripts. The assignments are whatever they are, and the challenge is for everyone involved to pull it off. Rehearsals begin about 9:00 a.m. Saturday. Curtain is 8:00 p.m. Saturday night, the Tides Theater in SF, one of four in the Shelton Theater building on Sutter St.
The Tides is a black box, so what curtains there are conceal the narrow space backstage. Lights. Showtime!
Now, you might think, “How can any of this be any good, given the ridiculously brief 24 hour between assignment of playwrights and the theme they are to write to?” Do not underestimate the power of theater. Although some of the participants must have day jobs, the level of professionalism on display here is truly astounding.
Eight plays making one hell-of-a-festival, each of them so memorable in its own write that it is a disservice to everyone involved to name even so much as a favorite. Here follows a bullet-point list of names. Everyone deserves a standing ovation.
- “Are We There Yet?” by Lorraine Midanik, directed by Paula Barrish. Actors: Emily Marie Grant and Jason Thompson.
- “The Loss Temple” by Sara Judge, directed by Charley Lerrigo. Actors: Chris Nguyen, Karly Schackne, Stephanie Whigham, Preeti Mann.
- “The Lab” by Gaetana Caldwell Smith (my friend who introduced me to this marvelous evening of one-act plays), directed by Sinouhui Hinojosa. Actors: Miyoko Sakatani, Jerren V. Jones, Edith Reiner.
- “Audition from Hell” by Mary Blackfore, directed by Tatiana Gelfland. Actors: John Ferreiro, Genevieve Purdue, Richard S. Sargent, Lee-Ron.
- “The Latest Small Triumph of Levia Stand: by Vonn Scott Bair, directed by Ted Zoldan. Actors: Merri Gordon, Lisa Klein, Chris Maltby.
- “Brothers in Arms” by Jeffrey Blaze, directed by Kris Neely. Actors: J. D. Scalzo, Alesander Delgadillo.
- “Barbie Pink, Barbie Yellow. . .” by Elizabeth A. Rosenberg, directed by Nathanael Card. Actors: Roberta J. Morris, Sara Leight.
- “The Dance Card” by Jacqueline E. Luckett, directed by Don Hardwick. Actors Louel Senores, Katrina Kroetch.
The offerings ranged from the farcial through insightful into truly amazing. The genuine laughs were frequent, the surprising turns of events many. If I mention “The Lab” for its black-humored look at the real problems facing coming generations, or “Brothers in Arms” for its subtle reworking of dominance in a family, it is not to diminish the amazing contributions of all the other artists at work in this phenomenal all-in-a-day work of theatrical production.
That day, for this event, has already closed. A capsule review such as this is pointless, unless it calls your attention to the next such 24-hour festival, and brings you down to witness theatrical art at one of its many highest levels.
Website: Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco
Review by David Hirzel: www.davidhirzel.net