New Theatre's 1-Acts Festival: Eight Plays for $10 and $2.50 Beer

If the New Theatre's 1-Acts Festival were a Black Friday deal, people would be clawing each other's eyes out just to get a piece. The two shows of the festival (December 21 to 22) will comprise a total of 16 short plays -- the works of 16 playwrights, 16 different directors, and 45 cast and crew members, all for a measly $10 per show. Better yet, the peeps at the New Theatre offer the option to get tipsy while you get your drama on, to the tune of a mere $2.50 per brewsky, or $4 for a glass of sangria.

The theater introduced its first 1-Acts Fest last summer, intending to reprise the event a year later. But the shows were so well-received, artistic director Ricky J. Martinez decided to make the theater collective a bi-annual happening.

"The show highlights the '[shadow artists]' from our theater community," Martinez said. "It brings to the forefront the artists who are usually working behind the scenes, who are not usually in the spotlight, and it gives them a chance to shine." Some writers, performers, and directors are returning from the summer show, while many others will be participating for the first time, Martinez said.

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Two different programs comprise the festival, and brace yourself, because their names are pretty wild: Program A and Program B. But what their monikers lack, their content will more than make up in variety, it would seem. Some highlights from Program A, which runs Friday, December 21, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 23, at 5:30 p.m., include The World Outside, an act abstracted from a larger work in progress that centers on the Everglades. The piece will be directed by Kim Ehly, who recently enjoyed the success as writer-director of her own work, Baby GirL, at the Empire Theater in Fort Lauderdale. "Hopefully the writer of The World Outside, David Caudle, will choose us, [the New Theatre], as the venue for his world premiere of the finished work," Martinez said.

Also part of Program A, Elf Yourself is a timely piece of holiday hilarity in which Mrs. Clause makes some aggressive moves on the newest elf to join Santa's workshop. And Bullsh*t Utah is another one-act comedy, directed by Martinez himself. "It is insane-crazy. Think Hialeah Girls Gone Wild," said Martinez of the short, which is exactly what we would have expected, given the title. Not.

Program B will run Saturday, December 22, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 23, at 1 p.m. (Ambitious theater goers can attend the festival all day on Sunday; Martinez says they'll be peddling cheap food in addition to drinks between the first and second performances for those who need to fuel up between bouts of frenzied clapping.) Martinez named After Sunset as one of his favorite pieces from the second show. "This is written by a playwright named Marion Gray who I met while directing at James Madison University in Virginia. She is one of the young playwrights in the play writing program over there and this is her first professional piece. It's about what happens when two best friends graduate high school and their whole world is torn apart. They're both going to different colleges. How will they stay friends with all this distance between them? It sounds like an HBO special, but it's actually a very beautiful and honest piece," Martinez said.

And then for something entirely different, viewers will experience Ice Machine, in which aliens teleport people through an ice machine, giving them "super-strong powers" in the process. "It's pretty wild," Martinez said. "But then there's something for everybody. Till the End is a bromance between two older guys who are thinking about who will die first, and kind of biding their time," the director said.

The shows will involve audience participation. Audience members will decide, by way of drawing playing cards, which acts will go on when for each performance, for example. The audience will also decide when to hold intermission, Martinez said.

"There will be nothing planned. There's no ego involved at all," Martinez said. "It's going to be a Hispanic-American-European smorgasbord. We're going to have a great time and make theater accessible to everyone."

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Camille Lamb Guzman is a journalist who writes on wellness, travel, and culture. She is also finishing a book of creative nonfiction.