Flux Sunday, February 24th
Directing at Flux Sundays can be a dangerous event. Why, if you're not careful, Members like Cotton Wright might bring you to an organic beer and local foods bar in the East Village, tie you down to a chair on a stage, and then give your brains a thorough washing with her drill.
(photo:Marnie Schulenburg, play: Adam Szymkowicz, director: John Hurley, victim: Jake Alexander).
Thankfully, Cotton resisted the ample temptation of my direction, and we all survived another Sunday. The highlights and lowlights follow, as best my unwashed brain can remember them.
THE MEDIUM, or DIABELLI'S THEME
We began the Sunday with a reading of the first 6 pages of a short play the lovely folks of Gideon Productions asked me to write for an upcoming short play festival. Their Diabellic idea is ingenious - give the same plot to different playwrights and see what variations ensue. I won't give away the plot, but will certainly post the details of this event when I have them. All you need to know is I treated myself to casting Jane Taylor, Richard Watson and Candice Holdorf to listen to them wrestle with my verse (because very short plays deserve verse). More anon.
VIVA FIDEL, or POLITICS AS COMEDY
Member and blogger Isaiah Tanenbaum returned with a new scene from his farce about the death of Fidel Castro, Viva Fidel! The hungry jaws of farce demanded props, slamming doors and silly accents, and Isaiah, directing his own work, delivered the goods, with hilarious work from Gregory Waller, Jason "Jefe" Paradine, Gretchen Poulos and Ken Glickfeld, who thought he was showing up late just to watch, only to discover Isaiah had more sinister intentions. I will not soon forget the dictator of Cuba brought back to life by a car battery.
SLEEPER, or POLITICS AS TRAGEDY
David Ian Lee's passionate political play about The Good American kidnapped by fundamentalists in Afghanistan crept one scene away from its conclusion. Now that I know this play may soon see the light of stage, I will try to avoid spoiling, but this scene brought us more of the delightful doubling Candice Holdorf as religious fundamentalist Kadir/left wing radical Teri; Brian Pracht's subtle and human Mahid; and Jane Taylor's continued fiery portrayal of right wing talk show host Rachel. More posts will describe this potent play in full.
THE MARRIAGE PLAY, or POLITICS AS PERSONAL
Melissa Fendell returned with new pages from her Marriage Play, so memorably last played by Kitty Lindsay's torch song torching the institution. In this scene, Cotton Wright and David Ian Lee deftly navigated a dangerous attraction between friends that finds safe refuge in a comically political plot against the state. Or at least, that's what Melissa was nice enough to let my attempt.
There's no snappy 'or' title for this lovely haiku of a play from Rob Ackerman. Rob has been bringing short plays lately, a form he does exceedingly well, but this was by far my favorite. One one level, the play comically pits two new employees at a 50's style burger joint against their well-intentioned boss, dubious co-workers, and a mad rush of tourists. And then our heroine Dierdre sweetly tells us she'll be dead in two months. Tim, her fellow teen and secret crush, hears her aside even as he is trapped in the past-as-present. He tries to find a way to make the future-as-now better even as he deals with all the silly details of our daily lives. It reminded me very much of one of Thorton Wilder's, that flint of wit sparking over darkness. This was a great turn for Jake Alexander, Ali Skye Bennett and Nancy Franklin.