Last night, Stephen and I went to Milepost 5 for "Show Us Your Shorts," an evening of short plays put on by PDX Playwrights. It was great fun - a mix of stories, themes and styles all united under four common prompts - which were not divulged to the audience. That was part of the fun - trying to figure out the prop, the line, the gesture and the unifying theme that were shared in all the pieces.(I got two of the four.) Think about how hard this is for the writers. You're given not one but four different elements (since the show is over, I can divulge: the prop of a rock, the line "it could be anything," the gesture of hands over the ears and the unifying theme of show and tell) and not only do you have to include all of these elements in your very short play (flash one-act?), but you must make them exist inside the writing organically rather than as prompt sore thumbs.
That's not all. Try coming up with this tiny complete play that incorporates all four
elements - and then try getting up as an actor to present this play,
along with other short plays, to a live audience. PDX Playwrights is a great group of writers and performers as well. The members who were a part of Tuesday night's show were Kate Belden, Brad Bolchunos, Gary Corbin, Jenni Miller, John Servilio and Sally Sunbear. It was an all-around good time, but for me the stand-outs of the night were "Could Be Anything" by Kate Belden and "Apostrophe and Rebuke" by John Servillio.
"Could Be Anything" was the most fun you'll ever have at the dentist's office. Totally off the wall - a smart, silly, neurotic conversation that snapped like the dialogue in old films from the thirties. I had no idea where this one was going, and I loved being in that particular confusion as the two characters bantered back and forth. Brad Bolchunos and John Servilio were the actors in the piece, and they were great - particularly John Servilio who had lovely timing.
"Apostrophe and Rebuke" was heady - that's the word I kept thinking. Heady in the sense of smart and heady in the sense of intoxicating with its mix of classical symbolism and celestial science - cut with one character's modern cynicism (and humor) - and finished off with a surprising sweetness. The dialogue and character development were laid down in layers like counterpoint in music.
The performance we went to was a local theatrical event, but PDX Playwrights meet on the first and third Thursday of every month at 23 Sandy Gallery, an art gallery located at 623 NE 23rd Avenue in Portland. Their workshops are open to the public. (!) If you're interested in attending a meeting, check out their website here for info and to RSVP.