Source Festival: ‘Ethereal Encounters’ by Anne Tsang


Summer in DC is one of my favorite times because it means theater festival time! First up, is CulturalDC’s three-week long Source Festival, now celebrating its fifth year. The festival’s three full length plays, eighteen 10-minute plays, and three Artistic Blind dates are grouped into three themes – Redeeming Demons, Rites of Passage, and Ethereal Encounters. In addition to inspiring creativity and collaboration and acting as a springboard for new works, this year the festival has created a mentorship program for directors.

Ethereal Encounters 10-minute plays take a look at the surprising consequences and unsettling discoveries resulting from mysterious and unexpected encounters. Lighting Designer, Colin Dieck and Prop Designers Katherine Brunberg and Andrew Zehrung use several white walls to project various images on and minimalist stage props (a bed, a Lazy Boy chair, a flashlight) to help set the scene for each of the six plays. Hats off to Dieck’s clever use of lights, flashlights, and shadows in Warm Bodies to represent the two ghosts.

In Answers (directed by Doug Eacho), Flash (Sara Blush), Hank (Rafael Medina), Guy (Chris Aldrich), and Lenny (Steve Lee) find a box that answers all their questions, but can they pay the price it requires? The four friends learn that when you don’t want to ask a question, everything comes out in the form of a question.

In Jinshin Jiko (directed by Jason Loewith), Morgan (Jennifer Restak), an American business woman and her husband Kenneth (Sam Phillips) are in Japan and she is preparing to give a presentation to her bosses. Morgan, on the train with her husband heading to the presentation, is so stressed that she is sarcastic and rude to Kenneth and the fellow train passengers and in even more despair when the train is stopped because of a “Jinshin Jiko” which explained by the man on the train (Steve Lee) translates to a “human accident” on the train. But this chance encounter with a man on the train (Steve Lee) who was just laid off but full of hope for the future and Yurei (KyoSin Kang), a spirit that only Morgan can see, may just change her life forever.

Morgan (Jennifer Restak) is terrified as she realizes the woman on the subway that has been ignoring her (left, KyoSin Kang) is actually a spirit that only she can see. Kenneth (Sam Phillips) is trying to keep her calm. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Lost and Found at the Hotel Mogador (directed by Rick Hammerly) delves into what happens when an American traveler (David Landstrom) loses his memory while backpacking through Morocco and the local police officer (Michael Rodriguez) who is trying to help him to piece together isn’t really interested in helping him regain his memory.

F2F (directed by Doug Eacho) explores the strange acronym filled world of texting teenagers (Chris Aldrich, Sarah Blush, Jessica Shearer) who are in a texting frenzy because of a sext that Grace (Natalie Cutcher) sent to Cody (Rafael Medina). The Adult (Jennifer Restak) is instrumental in helping to decode and translate this strange language. Cody, who is obviously infatuated with Grace, is awkward and has no chance of winning her heart…but will the appearance of the Great Monster of Coltan change all of that?

In Warm Bodies (directed by Rick Hammerly), Ryan (David Landstrom) and Lindsay (Rachel Viele) encounter a male (Eric Humphries) and female (Stacy Whittle) ghost in a haunted hotel. The male ghost possesses Ryan and the female ghost unwillingly possesses Lindsay. The female ghosts wants out as soon she finds out that he doesn’t actually knows what happens to the bodies’ original “owners.” But is her insistence in leaving Lindsay’s body the wrong choice? And why is her companion being so sly in answering her questions? What will be Ryan and Lindsay’s fate?

The ghosts (left, Eric Humphries and right, Stacy Whittle). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Lisa Frank Virginity Club (directed by Doug Eacho) opens with Greg (Steve Lee) lamenting how the Lisa Frank (the 1990s designer of school supplies covered in rainbows, and unicorns and carried by every girl) and his overbearing Uncle Jim (Chris Aldrich) has jinxed his love life. The flashback to when he was twelve and reminiscing about how he was initiated into the Lisa Frank Virginity Club by his cousin, Brighton (Jessica Shearer), is filled with laughter, glitter, Cheetos, and even a unicorn! Steve Lee is hilarious and believable as the young Greg manipulated by his cousin and frightened by his uncle into joining the club and reciting the pledge.

The Ethereal Encounters 10-minute plays are thought provoking, and funny and if you are looking for a fun filled night of  mystery, ghosts, monsters, R2D2, unicorns, and glitter – go check it out!

Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

The remaining Ethereal Encounters 10-minute plays are scheduled for June 15, 23, 19, and 30, 2012. Source Festival runs through July 1, 2012 at Source – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington DC. For tickets, order them online.

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