One-Act Festival brings full-length productions

About The One-Act Festival A series of plays featuring local playwrights and actors opened last weekend at The Brick Playhouse on South Street. The One-Act Festival is the first in what is planned to be

About The One-Act Festival

A series of plays featuring local playwrights and actors opened last weekend at The Brick Playhouse on South Street.

The One-Act Festival is the first in what is planned to be an annual production at the Brick. This year, four plays are being shown: A Piece of Rope, Will Work for Food, Lesbos in the Kitchen, and Wind. They have previously been featured as staged readings in the InterAct Theatre Company’s Showcase of New Plays.

One of the festival’s aims is to bring longer productions to the Brick after a five-year hiatus, said Producing Artistic Director Mark Cofta. Cofta wrote Will Work for Food, one of the four productions at the festival. Next year, the festival will feature two winners of the newly established Albert Benzwie Playwriting award. This award is being given for one-act plays written by local playwrights.

The Brick is giving two other new awards this year. The Brick Playhouse Playwriting Award is another one-act award, but is open to playwrights nationally. The other award is the Robert Cornish Playwriting award given for a local full-length play.

About 160 submissions have been made to the three contests. The staff at the Brick will select a group of finalists that will be judged by an independent panel of judges. The judges come from the Philadelphia theater community. The winning productions will have staged readings at the Brick on May 3-5.

The One-Act Festival is also part of a larger Brick initiative to produce more marketable plays. It represents a “big increase in programming,” said Cofta.

The Brick is known for its shorter productions. In their Guaranteed Overnight Theater program, local artists write and produce a 10-15 minute play in 24 hours and then stage it at the playhouse. The Night of 1000 Plays program features one night of many plays averaging three minutes each.

—Brian White

Full-length productions have returned to South Street’s Brick Playhouse with its First Annual One-Act Festival, featuring four one-act plays by local playwrights. The plays are staged in sets of two on alternate evenings, Thursday through Sunday.

The best of the bunch is Wind, which tells the story of a man who kills his wife with a three wood golf club. The scene is a police station in a small beach town in New Jersey. Brant, the murderer, explains that he kills his wife because of a voice he heard in the wind.

Wind is a powerful exploration of life at middle age. Lost goals, fallen dreams, and unfulfilled hopes are all laid bare in the cold, gray Jersey Shore winter. The beach towns filled with vacationers in the summer become lonely hermitages in the winter for the people who live there year round.

Playing with Wind is Lesbos in the Kitchen. The play is not about lesbians, but rather about the ghosts of two women who are competing for the affection of the same living man. The two women had both been married to Ted. After the first wife, Sylvia, had killed herself, Ted married Olga. Olga kills herself and is thrust into the afterlife with Sylvia.

Lesbos in the Kitchen takes a look at how love can be perceived differently by the different parties to that love. What one sees as true love can really be simple lust on the part of the other person. Lesbos shows this in a unique way.

The other set of plays is A Piece of Rope and Will Work for Food. Rope is a play about an old family business trying to cope with modern technology and business methods. The owner’s son wants to bring in a young marketing person to replace Mel, the head salesperson, who has been with the company for 37 years. A Piece of Rope deals with issues of company loyalty and the changing business world. Although well acted, this unfortunately does not make for very compelling theater.

Will Work for Food is about a girl from a small New Jersey town trying to make it in New York City. The girl, Addy, has recently divorced her husband and moved to New York to escape from her past. She guides the story with stop motion narration that makes extensive use of film terminology. Will Work for Food manages to avoid the cliches and run-of-the-mill stories that usually go along with anything about living in New York. Addy is not trying to be a star or find wealth; she is simply trying to get by. While doing that, she discovers that no one is who they seem to be.

The festival is an opportunity to see works of local playwrights who are not featured at the area’s larger theatrical venues. The strong performances by all of the actors make each play worth seeing. Each one-act runs about 45 minutes, making for a great diversion if you need something to do for a few hours on the weekend.

The One-Act Theater Festival will be showing at The Brick Playhouse until March 31.

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