Montgomery Playhouse’s 14th Annual One Act Festival Continues This Weekend-A Look at The Shows

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It is that time of year again – yep you guessed it – Montgomery Playhouse’s 14thAnnual One Act Festival is here! This is a chance to show off lesser produced one-act plays, and a great venue for new writers to get their work seen. This year is a fun year filled with shows of all kinds, from heavy drama to light and fun farce! Actors and directors from all over the area converge to provide audiences with a night of first-rate entertainment.

David Jones is the Executive Producer at the Montgomery Playhouse and not only produces this festival- but you can catch him on stage here as well in Cory Atwood’s Outside the Box. A veteran of the stage both on and off, Jones has a unique perspective. Jones says that, “this year has one of the best slates of shows he has seen in his 13 years of producing the festival.” Jones goes on to say that, “all of these shows are strong.” That bodes well for Montgomery Playhouse, who will choose the show they will enter into the Maryland One Act Festival 2016 from this slate of 8 shows.

Of the shows featured this year there are 5 original works (unpublished) amongst them, all of which are from local playwrights. All 8 shows are separated into two groups 4 per night, Group A: Hotline, Asleep on the Wind, Outside the Box and Call Me When You Feel Bad and Group B: Two Stairs at a Time, Relativity, Hopscotch and Musing. Group A only has one performance left, Saturday, July 25th at 8 pm while you have two more chances to see Group B, Friday, July 24th at 8 pm and Sunday, July 26th at 2 pm.

Now let’s hear more about the shows!

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Asleep on the Wind by Ellen Byron (Published Work)

Director: Vanessa Terzaghi.

Cast: Callie Etches and Cristian Linares.

Cristian Linares and Callie Etches by Ellen Byron in
Cristian Linares and Callie Etches by Ellen Byron in ‘Asleep in the Wind’ by Ellen Byron. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

In a small clearing in Bayou Teche, Louisiana, the shy, reclusive Rootie and her favorite brother Beau escape to their “special place” to talk. Beau has a double purpose in this meeting: to persuade Rootie to stick it out at home and to tell her that he has enlisted in the Army.

Anne: What inspired you to direct this show?

Vanessa: I discovered playwright Ellen Byron years ago. Her work still fascinates me, and I wanted to bring Asleep on the Wind to life. It’s grounded in realism: family dynamics, celebrity worship and America’s response to the Vietnam War. There are also supernatural elements. Mixing the ordinary and the mystical is a rewarding creative challenge.

What were some fun discoveries you learned along the way?

There are only two characters in the play. A friend of mine – an academic – read the script and asked me “whose story is this?” The cast and I have pondered that question in our rehearsals. The play is filled with Elvis references, so the cast and I rediscovered Elvis together.

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

Vanessa: I’m biased, but I’m proud of my actors and their performances. The themes are intriguing: family ties, escapism and being trapped by poverty or lack of education. The play is both humorous and bittersweet.

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Call Me When You Feel Bad by Rob Gorman (Original Work).

Director: Rob Gorman.

Cast: Joanna Chilcoat Fellows, Diana Hutter, and David Lloyd Savolaine.

David Lloyd Savolaine and Joanna Chilcoat Fellows in 'Call Me When You Feel Bad' by Rob Gorman.
David Lloyd Savolaine and Joanna Chilcoat Fellows in ‘Call Me When You Feel Bad’ by Rob Gorman. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

Jae and Jeff are moving into a new apartment and stumble across Jae’s high school yearbook. In it Jeff finds a note that says “Call me when you feel bad – Nancy Vargo.” On a whim Jae decides to contact Nancy — a conversation that has dramatic consequences.

Anne: How long have you been writing?

Rob (writer/ director): The first show I wrote was “20 Questions” in 2004. It was produced in Pittsburgh in 2005, and then twice recently, for the Silver Spring Stage in 2014 and the Watermelon One-Act Festival in southern Maryland earlier this year. I don’t consider myself primarily a writer – aside from 20 Questions and this show, my writing output consists of a couple of unproduced 10-minute plays, and an adaptation of “The Lorax” that I did for my son’s second grade class.

What inspired this show?

I’m glad to say it’s not autobiographical at all. I got the idea from a letter in the advice column called The Ethicist that runs in the New York Times. People write in with ethical dilemmas. The letter writer wanted to know if would be ethically OK to disclose, many years after the fact, that a certain former high school classmate had slandered her with a rumor. I was wondering about what might be an interesting approach for the rumor victim to take in that situation, and the script took off from there.

Are you excited to see it come to life?

Very much so! This is the first time the show has been produced, and the first time I have directed my own work.

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

Rob: Many of the shows this year are fairly dramatic, and mine is a lighter counterpoint. I find it interesting how audience members judge these characters more or less harshly depending on their own experiences. With my show, the audience gets to laugh and pass moral judgment, two universally enjoyable experiences!

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Hopscotch by Israel Horowitz (Published Work).

Director: Michael Abendshein.

Cast: Jen Katz and Raphael Tobias.

- Jenn Katz and Raphael Tobias in 'Hopscotch' by Israel Horowitz.
Jenn Katz and Raphael Tobias in ‘Hopscotch’ by Israel Horowitz. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

A young man and woman meet apparently by chance in a park. Their conversation, casual at first, unfolds to reveal that the two have indeed known each other before.

Anne: What inspired you to direct this show?

Michael: I wanted to direct a show that would provide a unique challenge to a director and actors. I had seen Hopscotch performed before and I thought that its subject matter would make people question themselves about what they would do in this situation. I liked that.

What were some fun discoveries you learned along the way?

There is some stage combat in this show which was choreographed by Todd Fleming. It was fun to learn all the techniques used to make a fight look real on stage.

Why should folks check out your show?

There are two extremely talented performers on stage telling a very dark but true to life story. Come see them blow you away.

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Hotline by Elaine May (Published Work).

Director: Bruce Hirsch.

Cast: Anna Snapp, James Morogiello, Matthew Datcher, Stacey Fearheiley, and Rebecca Korn.

Matthew Datcher and Anna Sapp in 'Hotline' by Elaine May
Matthew Datcher and Anna Snapp in ‘Hotline’ by Elaine May. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

A neurotic young woman calls a suicide crisis hotline one night. The counselor who gets the call is overwhelmed. This is his first night on the job.

Anne: How long have you been directing?

Bruce: I’ve been directing for more than 40 years. Much of my early work was with one act plays so I’ve always had an affinity for them.

What inspired you to direct this show?

The immediacy of a one act appeals to me. Get in, set a premise, meet a few people, tell the story and get out. Hotline is the story of two desperate people. One is in his first day as a suicide hotline counselor and he finds himself out of his depth. The other is a neurotic, self-destructive woman’s whose last hope rides on this new counselor. Two desperate, intense people is very appealing to me.

What are some fun discoveries you learned along the way?

What was fun to discover in rehearsal was the humor in the play. We don’t make fun of the situation but even when they don’t intend to be funny, people can behave in funny ways.

Why should theatergoers come check out your show?

People should check out our show to discover the dark humor and for the performances. We have some very talented actors who give very intense performance that will carry you along.

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Musing by Jacy D’Aiutolo (Original Work).

Director: David Dossey.

Cast: McKenna Kelly and Paul Noga.

McKenna Kelly and Paul Noga in 'Musing' by Jacy D'Aiutolo.
McKenna Kelly and Paul Noga in ‘Musing’ by Jacy D’Aiutolo. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

A customer enters an unusual shop and encounters a very polite and efficient Clerk. The shop doesn’t trade in your run of the mill items and soon the Customer finds more than she was expecting.

The Playwright:

Anne: How long have you been writing?

Jacy: I’ve been writing for the stage for about eight years or so. Musing was written four or five years ago, I think, but it didn’t find a home until now.

What inspired this show?

I’m not sure I know. The way I work is not particularly formal. If I get an idea, I usually write it down and come back later to play around with it. Sometimes it turns into something and sometimes it doesn’t. The ideas themselves are probably inspired by something I’ve read or seen or heard, but it’s usually not anything I’m conscious of at the time.

Are you excited to see it come to life?

Sure! It’s always exciting when something you’ve written is being performed. I don’t always get a chance to travel to see the finished product, which is one of the reasons I like local festivals like this one. (I haven’t seen Musing yet, but I’m planning on going this weekend)

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

Hopefully because they’ll find it funny. One of the great things about an evening of one-acts, from an audience perspective, is that even if a particular play isn’t your cup of tea, there will be something entirely different along in just a little while.

The Director:

Anne: Why did you chose to direct this play?

David: The reason I chose this play because of the twisted ending. I heard the twilight zone when the final curtain was called for.

What discoveries did you make while directing?

The fun discoveries I learned from this show is that something hidden is the best surprise.

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

The reason why people should check out my show are, it is a surprise, and there are unique sounds from a bucket, and place the twilight ending credits.

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Outside the Box by Cory Atwood (Original Work).

Director: Cory Atwood.

Cast: Corrie Bolcik, Eric Henry, Jimmy Santos, Ruth Orland, Kryss Lacovaro and David Jones.

Corrie Bolcik, Ruth Orland ,and Jimme Santos in 'Outside the Box' by Cory Atwood.
Corrie Bolcik, Ruth Orland, and Jimmy Santos in ‘Outside the Box’ by Cory Atwood. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

Bill and Julie return to Bill’s home for his father’s retirement party. Bill and his father have had a contentious relationship over the years impacting most of Bill’s life. Can a reconciliation begin?

Anne: How long have you been writing?

Cory: I started writing about 20 years ago. This particular play has been incubating for more than 15 years.

What inspired this show?

An experience I had in a weekend workshop with lots of recall of memories. We were directed to recall someone who had wronged us, and afterwards someone whom we had wronged. For me they turned out to be the same person. I discovered that I could forgive the wrong he’d done to me only after I acknowledged the wrong I’d done to him. This was both an enormous surprise and a personal liberation.

Are you excited to see it come to life?

Excited and anxious. Like seeing my baby for the first time.

What did you discover as you directed your own play?

That lots of things needed to be trimmed down.

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

Cory: It’s an exploration of how a reconciliation, a healing, could begin. Isn’t that worth seeing?

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Relativity by Steven C. Silver (Original Work).

Director: Anne Vandercook.

Cast: Alexandra Bunger-Pool, Toni G. Carmine, Brett Cassidy, and Michael Sigler.

 Alexandra Bunger-Pool, Brett Cassidy, Toni Carmine, and Michael Sigler in 'Relativity' by Steven C. Silver.
Alexandra Bunger-Pool, Brett Cassidy, Toni Carmine, and Michael Sigler in ‘Relativity’ by Steven C. Silver. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

Jack and Maggie (in their mid 20’s) and John and Margaret (in their mid 40’s) find themselves in a coffee shop simultaneously but at different times. As the play unfolds the parallels between their respective relationships and time frames get a bit jumbled.

Anne: How long have you been writing?

Steven: I have been writing for around 20 years, both professionally and personally. I feel very fortunate to have made a career as a speechwriter and playwriting is something I will likely do for the rest of my life in some capacity or another.

What inspired this show?

Steven: There is a wonderful book by Alan Lightman called Einstein’s Dreams that I read many years ago. It is a fictional look at different concepts of time imagined by a young Albert Einstein. That book inspired me to think about time in non-linear ways and to use it as a device to tell a story about the larger life cycle of a relationship.

Are you excited to see it come to life?

I was happy to see you first bring Relativity to life as a cast member almost 10 years ago.

Yep, many moons ago . . .

I am honored and grateful to you that you are bringing it to life again as a director and with a wonderful new cast.

Why should theatergoers check out your show?

Anyone who wants to think about time, choices, and relationships in different ways should come see it.

I agree. While I was pondering what show to select as my MP directing debut, I read through some scripts and nothing reached out to me. Then I remembered this script as being remarkable, so it clicked! It is far too good to keep on the shelf. Definitely the type of shows that will keep you thinking well after it is over.

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Two Stairs at a Time by Steven Bienstock (Original Work).

Directed by: Steven Bienstock.

Cast: Rob Gorman, Joanna Chilcoat Fellows, Ed Silverstein, Marc Rehr, Chris Hawkins.

- Ed Silverstein and Rob Gorman in 'Two Stairs at a Time' by Steven Bienstock.
Ed Silverstein and Rob Gorman in ‘Two Stairs at a Time’ by Steven Bienstock. Photo by Scott D’Vileskis.

Joe, an attorney who has difficulty saying no, is trying to take a couple of vacation days. Unfortunately the office, friends, neighbors, and clients keep interfering.

Anne:  How long have you been writing?

Steven: I’ve been writing articles, reviews, short stories, books, plays, poems since the 1960’s

What inspired this show?

The show was written in 1980, and was inspired by events in my life, feelings/situations that I was experiencing.

Are you excited to see it come to life?

It’s been a hoot and a half so far.

What did you discover as you directed your own play?

I thought that I had done a pretty good job writing it, but as we rehearsed and I got input from the cast, I was able to step back and make changes that, hopefully, improved the quality of the show dramatically.

Why should folks check out your show?

Lots of frontal nudity (kidding), some laughs, and a lot of food for thought.

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So, there you have it! 8 fun and interesting shows. Come out and support your local artists. There is only one weekend left so, don’t miss it.

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The Montgomery Playhouse 14th Annual One Act Festival is playing through July 26, 2015 at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn/ Arts on the Green – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.