Tuesday, May 6, 2014

24 Hour Play Festival - ROUND 2! • Theatre Lab & The Players Project Theater Company

This past weekend, Theatre Lab & Players Project Theatre Company teamed up for the second installment of the 24 Hour Play Festival, held at Webster Groves High School. This is one of those cool, one-night-only theatre things that I'm always telling my friends about.

The deal is, 5 writers are given a genre, setting and a line that has to be incorporated into the script. (The audience doesn't know what the line is until the performance.) The writers have 7 days to complete a 10 or so minute play, and the randomly selected directors and actors have 24 hours to memorize, stage and rehearse it before performing the plays for the public the next day. Love, right? Not only does the festival result in five new works, it's also a special night of fresh theatre for the audience, and a blast for the artists who come together to work on their pieces.

There was a humorous thread of offing other people than ran through many of the plays, starting with "In", written by Spencer Green and directed by Edie Avioli, with Sarah Porter, Rachel Hanks and Amy Kelly in a murderous pact to whack each others' boyfriends. Their boyfriends may not be cheating on them at the moment, but they will eventually, so why not adjust the gender balance of the world and get rid of 'em now? These three received an award at the end of the night (listed below) for Best Ensemble.

In "Preserver", written by Rachel Fenton, the blossoming relationship between two men play out in a studio apartment. Director Christina Rios Kelley had the toughest challenge, with the play being sans dialogue. The actors mouthed words, silent movie style, with accompanying film projector sound effects and written titles. Evan Fornachon, whom we see moving into a new apartment at the start, and Carl Overly Jr., his eventual boyfriend, do great work with an exacting script.

"About Time", written by Steve Peirick and directed by Todd Schaefer, starts with Wendy Renée Greenwood breaking into a bar. She soon meets Evan Kuhn's character, the son of the former owner, saddled with the responsibilities of a bar that's slated to close down for good in a day. These two have suffered recent losses, and the comfort within the walls of that bar, holding memories for both, was very nicely translated, with Greenwood and Peirick receiving awards.

"Twin Pines", a zestfully wacky melodrama written by Zak Farmer and directed by Ryan Foizey, finds three friends, Nick Kelly, Brian Claussen and Sarajane Alverson, in a park commemorating the loss of their good friend. Whom they killed a few years earlier. After they establish the reality of what's going on, they individually profess their undying love for another member of this tri-friendship -- spotlit and… well… very melodramatic. And then there was some more murder. It was hilarious.

"The Animal" finds the tension between married couple, played by Terry Meddows and Rachel Tibbetts, so thick you could cut it with a knife. The hen-pecked husband crumbles at the weight of his wife's taunts, entertaining bad thoughts with a puppet. You heard me. Written by Carl Wickman and directed by Michael Amoroso, it was a perfect ending to a great night of new plays.

Basically, theatre-lovers are pretty lucky in this town -- in addition to the number of companies here, there are a few of these troupes that host annual new play festivals. The fact that this one has that 24 hour spin on it makes this festival all the more exciting to see. Keep an eye out for the next one -- Theatre Lab & The Players Project Theater Company plan to make a habit of this. Yay!!

24 Hour Play Festival - ROUND 2!

Writers: Spencer Green, Rachel Fenton, Steve Peirick, Zak Farmer and Carl Wickman.

Directors: Edie Avioli, Christina Rios Kelley, Todd Schaefer, Ryan Foizey and Michael Amoroso.

Actors: Evan Fornachon, Carl Overly Jr., Evan Kuhn, Nick Kelly, Brian Claussen and Terry Meddows.

Actresses: Sarah Porter, Rachel Hanks, Amy Kelly, Wendy Renée Greenwood, Sarajane Alverson and Rachel Tibbetts.

Lights - Ryan Tuminnello, sound - Jonah Schnell, musical entertainment by Chris Sears. 

Best Actor - Evan Fornachon
Best Actress - Wendy Renée Greenwood
Best Director - Ryan Foizey
Best Writer - Steve Peirick
Best Ensemble - Sarah Porter, Rachel Hanks and Amy Kelly.

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