Sunday, August 20, 2006

Evening of One-Acts

Saturday night I went to see the first of 3 weekends of a local company's annual One-Act Festival. I went because 2 of the 5 pieces on the program involved friends of mine whose work I've enjoyed before.

The first piece was OK, the 2nd was painful (performers were wooden & seemed under-rehearsed, timing was poor, and I didn't think much of the material), and the 3rd was a damp squib (didn't so much end as fade out). Fortunately, the two pieces my friends were involved with were quite a bit better. The piece I'd gone to see a friend in, Chekhov's "The Brute", was good material, well directed and brilliantly performed. The director decided on a light southern accent for the woman and sorta cowboy-ish accents for the two men. Because all three handled them with a light touch, I thought it worked quite well. (And the director's decision to use the Gone With the Wind theme for the after music was inspired!) I. has a gift for physical comedy and, as the old family retainer, adopted a funny walk that reminded another fan of his of Walter Brennan. At one point, he entered pumping his hands as if using a walker; very effective and quite funny. The costumer in me wanted to shorten the woman's white pettis so there wasn't such a blizzard showing under her mourning dress when she was seated, and her bustle dress needed a bustle, but those minor things were my only quibbles. All 3 performers can be proud of their work last night.

The other piece, directed by L, my "theater mentor", was based on the premise that lunching w/ an ex-spouse has become an Olympic medal event. Funny concept, and the material lived up to it. D did a lovely job - just the right amount of angst over remembered better days, and just exactly the right note of triumph in the last line as his character knows he's won the gold. Kudos to L&D for one of the two consistently strong one-acts of the evening.

This was the first time I'd ever attended one of these. I found myself wondering how the directors find the pieces they submit for inclusion, and why so many of the 5 presented last night were so dreary. I'm also curious about how they put these things together. I'm told that when auditioning for a 1-act festival, you're going into a pool from which the various directors draw; you don't audition for a particular role or show or director. I'll have to ask what you audition with - prepared monologue, cold reading, or whatever. Not that I'm planning to audition for a one-act festival in the foreseeable future; I'm just curious about the process.

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