In a matter of days, the stage meticulously set-designed by James Cass for the current production at Carrollwood Players Theatre will be empty. The next performance will be set against a velvet curtain, relying strictly on its actors and the most minimalist use of props to tell a short story.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, One Act Weekend comes to the theater at 4333 Gunn Highway. Eight local playwrights with diverse backgrounds, writing styles and themes will have their original work performed for the public for the first time.
The theater selection committee received over 50 submissions for consideration for this limited special engagement weekend. Judging criteria included length and subject matter, and the members rated each play and gathered to discuss the findings. With eight plays being performed, it was imperative that the time not exceed 10-15 minutes.
The 2014 roster for One Act Weekend is “Love is a 4 Letter Word” by Arnold Kane, “Cradle Robber” by Deborah Bostock-Kelley, “What’s Your Status” by Shaina Sine, “Five Days in Calcutta” by Fred Perry, “Greater Good” by Donna Hoke, “Legos for Tim” by Marc S. Sanders, “The Dance Lesson” by Michael Cote and “The Fall of Princess Luna” by Bob Moran.
In late March, One Act writers were notified of their plays’ acceptance, and a call was put out for directors. Auditions were held to fill the many roles.
“We had a really strong field of submissions this year, and I think there is a little something for everyone,” said Eric Misener, first-time director and a member of the One Act selection committee. “There’s comedy, drama, some quirkiness, and even a ‘twist’ ending or two. Most of all, audiences will get to see works by authors, both local and from other areas, that have not been produced here before.”
Fast forward two months, and the actors have perfected the nuances of their characters, while directors, cast and crew are preparing for what the industry calls “hell week,” a technical week of long nights rehearsing blocking on stage, determining sound and lighting cues and timing of each short play the week of the One Act Weekend launch.
“The One Acts provide a forum for people who want to give it a shot as an actor, and in my case, as a director. They are a bit raw, or minimalistic. Limited staging and limited rehearsals, shorter scripts which don’t overwhelm or intimidate a newcomer, and they are a bit edgy at times,” new author and director, Paul Jannereth explained. “The focus is primarily on the actors and the story and there is a comfortable degree of interpretation, which allows even the veteran actor an opportunity to grow. But most of all, they’re a lot of fun!”
A member of Carroll- wood Players Theatre since 2009, One Act Weekend Producer Eric Edington agreed. From organizing the auditions to scheduling tech week, Eric is helming the 2014 One Act Weekend and is responsible for the eight plays, directors, cast, stage manager and backstage assistants.
“It is much different (from being an actor) — you are accountable for all the plays and making sure that everyone has everything they need,” said Edington. “It can be a full-time adventure.”
Edington was also on the reading committee and is excited to see how the show will come together during tech week. “We have a terrific blend of comedy and drama along with a great cast and directors. I’m excited to see how the directors interpret what the playwright has written.”
Directors Misener, Jannereth, Deborah Bostock-Kelley, Judith Sachs, Ann Lehman, Ashley Kix, Chelsea Orvis, Mike Cote, and Jessica Jacobs agree that the three-day-only One Act Weekend is important to community theatre.
It enables a novice to try his or her hand at directing a short piece with no long-term commitment, and new actors to test the waters without the fear of a lot of line memorization.
“While it tends to be easier to do than people think, the One Acts are a perfect way to build confidence in one’s ability, without being overwhelmed by the amount of memorization,” said Misener. “Honestly, I am excited to see each one of the plays, and the diversity of writing, acting, and directing styles that they will contain.
“That’s one of the things I like best about these type festivals: eight different pieces, and all sorts of different people’s fingerprints on them.”
Carrollwood Players Theatre is a nonprofit community theatre that has been showcasing and discovering local talent since its inception in 1981.
Despite providing the public with everything from the One Acts, tense dramas and slapstick bedroom farces to Carrollwood Idol and the improv troupe Nine and Numb, it is also one of Carrollwood’s best-kept secrets.
“The most important word in Community Theater is ‘community.’ It is a fantastic gathering of friends, relatives, and patrons who enjoy the art of entertainment.
“I would strongly encourage anyone who has ever had the slightest thought of being an actor or just helping out behind the scenes of a production to come out and get a taste for it and get involved,” Jannereth explained.
“The people at Carrollwood Players are all very talented and welcoming and do an amazing job.”
Added Misener, “I would like to thank the board of Carrollwood Players for their help and support, and also Eric Edington, who worked very hard to put this together; but most of all, thank you to our members and everyone who comes to see our shows.
“It is the community support that allows us to continue pursuing what we love to do, and hopefully, educating and entertaining along the way.”
The 2014 One Act Weekend is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night and 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $12 at the box office and can be reserved in advance at www.carrollwoodplay ers.org.