As those of us forced to fashion a clear, convincing, and even entertaining story out of a scant 400 or so words know well, it's damn tough! Imagine then writing an entire play -- comedy, drama, musical -- that lasts less than twenty minutes. Can't be done, you scoff? Tell that to City Theatre, which for the past six years has been putting on a rare, annual monthlong festival of one-act plays called Summer Shorts, and two years ago boldly expanded its repertoire with a cold-weather version titled Winter Shorts.
About fifteen plays are featured in the festival's two-part program, which stars a cast of distinguished local actors. Works come from the minds of acclaimed wordsmiths such as Christopher Durang, Tina Howe, William Mastrosimone, Brooke Berman, and Jane Martin. But local authors may have their pieces staged as well. Who the heck decides what gets produced and what doesn't? Well, you do, sort of. That is if you take the time out of your busy schedule to attend City Theatre's Festival Series at Books & Books this Monday. Theater aficionados are invited to sit in as the group reads and discusses four or five of the hundreds of submissions they've received. Local playwrights offer their insights about the process of writing and developing. And the audience members get to do more than sit by passively, taking it all in and muttering derogatory comments under their breath. They get to play critic too; their, er, valuable input is taken into account. Really! According to producing artistic director Stephanie Norman, more than 60 percent of the plays produced last season were chosen through this process of artistic elimination. If you miss this month, not to worry; you'll have a few more opportunities to have your say. The event, which began in October, continues through March. Eat your heart out, John Simon!