Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thanks, virgins!

Alas, 14/48, the world's quickest theater festival, is finished for the year. But one of many reasons that 14/48 is better than Christmas is that it happens more often. The festival will next be at ACT in January.

Saturday night's seven plays, based on the theme "The devil is in the details," went out with a bang. Ahem. The final play of the evening, "Kids. Today." written by Nik Perleros and directed by Julia Griffin, featured a wild sex scene between the characters plays by Mark Waldstein and Sandra Ponce. The scene was more than a little awkward. It's tough to maintain modesty during frantic stage copulation followed by the immediate arrival of three fully-grown, slimy, and demonic offspring. You really had to be there.

Weisenheimer has had a difficult time picking a favorite play of the evening. It was either "The Importance of Beauty" written by John Farrage and directed by Justin Alley, or "Hot Tub" written by Brandon Jepson and directed by Agastya Kohli. The former featured Daniel Wood as da Vinci and Emily Grogan as his model for the Mona Lisa, David Nail as the modern-day art professor who doesn't understand the painting, and Rebecca M. Davis as the student who does. The latter was a bit less subtle. Zach Adair and Meaghan Halverson played a couple being cooked up in a cauldron by witch Erin Pike. They were in the predicament because Adair's character forgot the map. They got out of it because Cody Smith, a lovable troll who is friends with the witch (he calls himself a "hag hag"), let them go, as he usually does with dinner. He's turning vegan.

We couldn't find any photos from last
night to steal! Everyone must have been
too exhausted to post any! Here's
Weisenhimer's pic of the opening screen.
We also enjoyed "The Ceremony" by Kate Jaeger and directed by Debra Pralle, in which the world is destroyed by a super demon because someone forgot the salt. There was a lot of creepiness this weekend, including Rob MacGregor's performance as the title character in "Oscar Clyde Denman," a controlling butler who didn't want Rachel Glass to go off to the extreme dangers of college. The play was written by Jennifer Jasper and directed by Alyson Soma. "Alfred" by Holly Arsenault and directed by Maria Glanz, was an oddball knife salesman who encounters two similar, yet very different, women at a bus stop. As for "My Cat From Hell" by Dave Clapper: while my Sweetie, the official scorer, is a Jackson Galaxy fan, Weisenheimer doesn't think any plays should be based on naughty cats.

We'd like to think everyone who participated in this weekend's 14/48 is no longer a virgin, but this may not be the case. As co-founder Jodi-Paul Wooster noted during his curtain speech last night, "You're deflowered when I say you're deflowered."

See you in January, blossoms!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

14/48--Virgins no more

A bunch of theater artists lost their 14/48 virginity last night, and those of us who got to watch are better off for it.

A virgin, in the parlance of 14/48, the world's quickest theater festival, is a person who is participating in a particular discipline—writing, directing, acting, designing, or being part of the band—for the first time at the festival. This is not to say they've never done the fest before, but we're told that all but a couple of the actors were completely new as the event seeks to broaden its community of participants.

Erin Pike and Daniel Wood give really horrible dating
advice in "Thank You For Holding," but we detected a
bit of a spark between the characters at the end! 14/48
photo by Joe Iano.
Last night's seven world premiere plays on the theme "Sorry—I thought that would help" were all solid, giving another fun night of theater. My sweetie, the official scorer, and I agreed on a favorite of the evening: "Thank You For Holding," written by Kate Jaeger and directed by Maria Glanz. Ashley Marshall and Cody Smith were adorable as love-struck but uber-shy co-workers on a technical support desk, who are amazed that they're simultaneously asking "Is it plugged in?" or "Have you tried turning it off and back on?" Erin Pike and Daniel Wood offer the pair technical support in romance, but their suggestions are terribly, hilariously bad. It's a total "awwww" moment when the techies connect despite  the bad advice, with Wood hollering, "A relationship based on truth will not last!" As the lights go down, we expect the love advisors will have a little thing of their own.

Another favorite was "Butter and Sugar," written by Nik Perleros and directed by Justin Alley. Sam Read is a hoot as Paula Deen, Meaghan Halverson and Jillian Vashro are butter and sugar, and Zach Adair is Paula's kinky love interest.

I also really liked "A Fish and a Bear in Purgatory" by Holly Aresnault, directed by Debra Pralle, especially for great performances by Rebecca M. Davis as the bear and Mark Waldstein as the fish. The play also revealed a bit of the anxiety that goes into the 14/48 experience, as evidenced by this tweet from Arsenault on Thursday:
"Undo" ran at Annex Theatre earlier this year. We missed it, but reviews were solid.

The evening also featured the totally creepy "Spoiled" by Jennifer Jasper and directed by Julia Griffin, Dave Clapper's play about a "Wedding Day" gone horribly wrong, and "Kings", John Farrage's tale of a drag king contest.

Tonight's theme is "The Devil is in the details." We're certain it will be another fun and interesting evening of theater. Shows at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tickets here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kamikaze II--Occam's Razor

Here we are, mid-week between 14/48 weekends, one of the great festival seasons of the year. In about 34 hours the all-virgins will gather to pick a theme for playwrights to tackle for Friday night's shows. In the meantime, let's look back on Saturday's shows in 14/48 Kamikaze, which capped an outstanding weekend of world-premiere one-act plays.

We explained the Kamikaze concept in our post about Friday's shows. Festival co-founder Jodi-Paul Wooster explained during the intro speech Saturday that picking participant roles at random wasn't done to make 14/48 harder--they could have done that by making the time frame shorter or releasing wild animals into the theater. Instead, the intent is to break down the hierarchy and put all of the artists on equal footing as collaborators creating theater.

It sounds nutty, but it really works, and last weekend was one of the strongest 14/48s in recent memory.

Allison Strickland prepares for her role in "Boungiorno,
Principessa!" She played a marionette, which is nearly
as creepy as a clown. 14/48 photo by Ian Johnston of
Dangerpants Photography.
Saturday's theme was "Occam's Razor." "Cut Your Teeth" was probably my favorite play of the night. Written by Darian Lindle and directed by Kathy Hsieh, the play was hot and erotic, performed by Cole Hornaday and Jonah Von Spreecken in a dentist's office. Where did they get that vintage dental equipment? Rinse, please. Chris Haddad's "Journey to 1983" directed by Lyam White was a time-travel tale of a relationship between dad and daughter that was most touching. "An Unquiet Mind" by Dawson Nichols and directed by Susanna Burney featured a schlump (played by Troy Lund) who gets no respect, even from inanimate objects in his home, which all talk. "Coming Soon to a Theater Near You" by Ashley Bagwell, directed by Aimée Bruneau, featured a delightfully bitchy interviewer (Sam Hagen) talking with Sly Stallone (Wayne Rawley) and Christopher Walken (Troy Fischnaller) about their upcoming action flick. You've got to love a play then ends with flying waffles.

The second act was a little on the creepy side. "Beautiful, Brains, Tinder" by Zoey Cane Belyea, directed by Mark Fullerton, featured a love triangle in the woods, but the hypotenuse seems pretty clueless about it. The wiener fight was a great action sequence. Shane Ragan got to improvise and riff on the Mariners in "The Space Between" (by Mik Kuhlman, directed by Joe Zavadil) while taking the most complicated route to Karen Jo Fairbrook's side. The evening closed with "Bongiorno, Principessa!" by Beth Peterson and directed by Brandon Felker, with pervy puppeteer Tim Moore and sadistic puppeteer Alyson Scadron Branner pulling the strings on three creepy, violent, and delicate marionettes (Joanna Horowitz, Pamala Mijatov, and Allison Strickland.) I think that marionettes are second only to clowns in creepiness. I was always wigged out by those TV shows like "Supercar" and "Thunderbirds." 

The 14/48 band is no more, but "The Gillettes" really rocked it Saturday night.

We can't wait for the all-virgins weekend with shows Friday and Saturday nights at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway. As always, there's a great lineup of artists ready to create theater in a pressure cooker. Tickets here. Don't miss the fun!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hooray for Kamikazes!

At last we've arrived at one of the high festival seasons of the year. No, not the solstice; that's another blog! It's 14/48, the world's quickest theater festival! The four weekends of 14/48 each year are among our favorite theater events.

Nick Edwards is a hilarious pirate.
The usual concept is to choose a theme, send seven playwrights home Thursday evening to write a one-act play about that theme, have seven directors cast those new works the next morning, bring musicians and designers in and watch everyone work together until the plays are performed Friday evening. Then they choose a theme Friday, send the writers home again, and do it all over. Fourteen world premiere plays in 48 hours. This weekend they're raising the stakes a little. In the "Kamikaze" version of 14/48, everyone involved shows up not knowing what their function is going to be! Someone who is usually an actor or designer could draw "playwright" out of the hat, or someone who only plays kazoo might end up in the band. The band employed kazoos for several tunes last night.

It all sounds insane, and it probably is, but it typically produces some enjoyable theater. Last night's lineup was solid from first to last.

We bumped into Ashley Bagwell outside the theater as we arrived. He was very tired and more than a little nervous. He drew one of the playwright straws, though he'd never written a play before. His "Horton's Last Leg" was the first play of the evening, a touching tale directed by Lyam White and featuring K. Brian Neel, who was fantastic as Horton, the pooch who was about to be put down. The last play on the program was "The Final Curtain" by Beth Peterson, directed by Mark Fullerton. This play was laugh-out-loud funny, a script self-referential to 14/48, featuring Wayne Rawley as the pompous and sadistic king who sends his motley band of players home to work up something new for tomorrow. I also especially enjoyed "On Three," written by Chris Haddad and directed by Brandon Felker, about the remote mass suicide of a trio of World of Warcraft players; Beth Raas-Bergquist's character was going to off herself using an electric chair she'd purchased because of its five-star reviews on Amazon Prime. Think about that for a minute. Also loved "The Medallion's Clasp," by Mik Kuhlman directed by Susanna Burney, because Nick Edwards and Scotto Moore are two hilarious pirates.

Tonight's theme is Occam's Razor. Seven more world premieres coming up at 8pm at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway. We'll be there.