Community theater boogie shuffle
Last Friday night, I visited the local community theater, which isn’t something I do a lot of, and not merely because I’m a snooty theatergoer (no sense in denying that). I only have time and money to see a finite amount of theater—typically about 20-25 shows a season—so it doesn’t make sense to waste that time and money on theaters that I know will not buy my plays (there are exceptions, of course: even if I know a theater won’t ever produce one of my plays, but they’re doing a local playwright, you better believe I’ll do whatever I can to see that show). But I went to the Colonial Playhouse to see their annual showcase of short plays, affectionately called the “Colonial Quickies.” One of the plays was directed by Sam Barrett (whom I’ve referenced more than once for her living room salons), and one was written by my good friend Alex Dremann.
I’ve mentioned Alex in other posts, but I don’t think I’ve actually said much about what he does, which is write short plays like no one else. I’ve tinkered with the short form a bit in the past and ultimately decided it wasn’t for me, but it is clearly Alex’s thing. A few years ago, one of his short plays made it into the Humana Festival, so we’re not talking about a slouch, here. And community theater or no, I want to see his shit.
So, I went, and ended up enjoying myself. As you’d expect, the production values were amateurish, but they were also so damn enthusiastic. You could tell the actors were having a blast. Sure, the quality of the scripts was all over the place. A few were funny (like Alex’s, of course), and even well-written, and then there were one or two that made me want to claw out my spleen. Also, I don’t know who was running the sound board, but the jam they had going was not the one the actors had rehearsed.
But I’ll say this: the good people at the Colonial Playhouse know their audience. Even at some of the dubious stuff, people howled. It was a pleasure to see. And it was refreshing to be a guest at a theater that wasn’t aimed at me, or even trying to aim at me. Nothing in that theater is going to win a Barrymore Award or get a good review in the Inquirer, or even get reviewed in the Inquirer. But it makes people laugh, and that’s something all playwrights can relate to.
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