DTA Festival Day Three

 

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The cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Jumping get notes fro the adjudicator 

Like I said last time, Kate and I spent Friday night watching the first round of shows from the combined Delaware Theater Association (DTA) Festival and the Pennsylvania group called PACT (I have no idea what the acronym stands for). Regardless, we were there the first night.
A bit of inside baseball – the shows were broken into blocks and the show with which I was associated was in the last block starting at 1330 (1:30 pm).
The next day, Kate and I went to lunch then meandered our way back to Barnstormers. It hadn’t lost any of its charm from the night before. The Reedy Point Players (RPP) had taken up residence at front left hand corner of the theater.
At about 1300 (1 pm) the cast and crew from “Jumping” filed downstairs to the dressing and green rooms – to wait some more. The afternoon shows ran a tad late because one of the officials had to go home and feed his dog and ended up getting stuck in traffic coming back.
That’s cool – I get it. Dogs are important.
A little more inside baseball — Before a show starts at one of these competitions, the director comes forward and says, “Start.” A clock starts and the show has 80 minutes to set up, perform, and teardown the set; leaving the stage bare and the director announcing “Stop.” If you do it all in 80 minutes, you’re good, if not bad things happen. Not sure what those things are – probably public embarrassment.
While we waited in the wings for our turn we gave our director, Lyn Anderson, the business, “Make sure you say “start” when you go out there and not “stop.” Don’t screw this up.”
When Lyn said “Start” we moved smoothly and put the set up. (BTW Lyn would later win a set design award.) Then everyone took their places and I returned to my seat.
You see, I wrote Jumping and every time I’ve seen it I’ve astounded be the way they brought it to life. It’s pretty amazing. I sat there silently lip synching the words; using whatever body English I could muster to help things (I’m a big body and have lots to use). Lynn’s use of red, white and blue lights to create sunrise affect was so clever, I was very surprised she didn’t get a best direction award; I really was. Oh well – what do I know? I just write the stuff.
They were great and the audience laughter, gasped, and applauded when they were supposed to. I guess you can’t hope for more than that. But there was more.
Aniela Meinhaldt got an acting award, Lyn Anderson earned a set Design award, and Lance Thompson won a cameo acting award. Jumping took second (or first runner-up, officially). I was a tad miffed that L’Atanya Morrow-Caine didn’t get recognized; I thought she did a great job. I really did. Hmmm.
While most of the festival was focused on original works, one group decided to do an act from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” If the intent was to humble the assembled local playwrights – it succeeded. It was a superb performance that made me want to throw my collection of scripts in the trash and lift weights as an alternative.
There is a reason Tennessee Williams is an American master and I work at the Delaware Department of Labor.
He was great; I have to struggle to be not bad.
This production seemed to be the darling of the adjudicator; she ate dinner with the troupe, while we original playwrights ate tacos and ice cream – I guess that’s okay.
Anyway the awards ceremony was like you’d expect; representatives from Delaware and Pennsylvania dolling out awards. I’ve recounted those several in these three stories, but suffice it to say Reedy Point had a good weekend, earning enough kudos to sustain us and get more art done.

 

 

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DTA Second Day

20180323_211324After a cold and nasty night at the Delaware Theater Association (DTA) tech rehearsals, we returned the next day for the shows and like the end of a Nor-Easter, the clouds parted and all was right with the world.
Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park Penn was transformed into the most intimate theater you’ve ever seen. Tables were set up in a quasi-circular and theater style; allowing a place to put snacks and still focus on production. People were close together, yet there was shoulder room aplenty.
Purple seemed to be the color of choice for table cloths, napkins, and other table decorations.
“Meant to Be” was up first and the Reedy Point Players entry wowed the crowd. It was truly the best show of that production. I had seen it several times and this was – far and away – the best the cast had ever performed.
Andre Wilkins gave a standout performance as the tortured prisoner and murderer, who had been suckered in by the devil. Kevin Meinhaldt gave his consistently strong performance as the pitchfork wielding Beelzebub. Andre didn’t win an acting award and I thought that was shame; he was boffo.
Gail Wagner took the role of she-devil after another actor was forced to drop out. She eventually won a deserved award for her portrayal.
Even so, the night was stolen by a group from Pennsylvania – whose name escapes me at the moment — for their production of the “Bowl” (I think it was).
The show was about the activities of two goldfish in a fishbowl over the course of a year. It was delightful. And although it is hard to find an underlying them it really didn’t matter. The actors made you forget the angst of the show that went before – “I Dream Before I take the Stand.”
Some might argue the drama “I Dream. Before I take the Stand” from Wilmington Drama League was the big winner of the night (it did eventually win all the awards), it just didn’t float my boat. It’s probably me, not them.
“I Dream Before I Take the Stand” was a good two-person piece about a lawyer twisting a rape victim’s words to make things her fault. It was well executed and beautifully acted, but like I said, it’s probably me and I just didn’t enjoy it.
I guess I’m a heathen, or Neanderthal, or something.
The night ended on a high note with a 50/50 drawing and other fun stuff.
Day #2 Tomorrow.

 

DTA Competition The First Night Blues

DTA Weekend – The Arrival

DSCF5367 (2)Hmmm. The Delaware Theater Association (DTA) festival was this past weekend (23-24 Mar 2018) and I’m pretty sure it was a success. I had fun.

Initially though, it was kind of weird, at least for someone who had never been to competitive theater festival.
At first blush, it seemed so contrary to the “Delaware Way,” I found the first night off-putting. We got to the Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park, PA and everyone seemed gruff, overly official, or something. In fairness, maybe they were just tired; it had been a long day for them.
We (Reedy Point Players) arrived a bit early and there was a delay here or there for one thing or another, but we were eventually ushered into the theater after hanging out on the street, like a bunch of high school kids smoking behind their parents backs.
I guess a contest must have rules, so one of the organizers gave us the lowdown and it quickly became apparent we weren’t going to be able to behave, the way we do at home. You see, at home it is more of a free-for-all of goodwill. We help each other out move sets on and off the stage, make sure everyone is okay, and run lines with members of other casts. – you know community theater. None of that here.
We were finally allowed to bring our sets in and “Meant to Be” (the other play from Reedy Point) went up for their tech rehearsal, the cast for “Jumping” (the show I was involved in) went down to the basement amidst assorted dressing rooms and a common area referred to as a green room (though it wasn’t very green). We were cold and damp – and stayed that way.
We were in a bit of shock (I guess) and passed about 90 minutes telling silly stories to one another bemoaning our situation. I was going to write hostage notes to slide under the door, but one of the organizers came in and said, “Jumping You’re up.”
We went up the basement stairs this time to find the cutest theater, but it still seemed as if most of the officials were aloof or perhaps just busy. Even so, there was really no welcoming vibe.
Officials huddled at tables chatting amongst themselves and seemingly thinking great thoughts. To be fair, it was likely inappropriate for them to engage the contestants at length for fear of shouts of favoritism. Even so, it still struck me as odd.
We walked the stage, got our bearings, and started to work. Lyn Anderson adjusted the set and Aniela Miendhaldt, L’Tanya Morrow-Cain, and Lance Thompson did a quick rehearsal and realized they had a line or two tighten up. Lyn Anderson worked on lighting, and I walked around moving furniture and gave free advice whether I asked to or not.
Toward the end of our tech rehearsal we had it all figured out and Lyn had put together a pretty stunning visual for the show. We packed up and headed home – many of us disquieted and wondering where the fun went.
That would change the next day.

When Competition Turns To Cooperation: Reedy Point Players One Act Festival Turns Into Love Fest

thumbnail_2018OneActFestivalThe lights in the Delaware City Community Center dimmed.

Metal chairs with blue backs in straight rows stretched across the well-used basketball court. Black bunting covered the apron of a stage once used for school productions.

As the crowd of about 75 people trickled in, volunteers skittered back and forth making sure concession tables had the right mixture of snacks and soft drinks; tickets were sold and “break a leg” ducks were peddled to raise needed funds.

It was show night for the Reedy Point Players of Delaware City. But it was more than that.

While the Reedy Point Players were the hosts for the One Act Play Festival on February 16 and 17, 2018, it was a night of collaboration with actors, writers, and directors from Newark, Wilmington, New Castle, Middletown, and points far and wide, coming together to lift each other up.

And oh, by the way – it was a competition.

The One Act Festival would decide which One Act play would go to the Delaware Theater Association’s annual competition, to be held the weekend of March 23rd, 2018 at the Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park, PA. That’s not important now.

It seemed the only advantage for which anyone was looking was to make good theater happen. Everyone worked on multiple shows, in different roles. If one were to construct a Venn diagram for the evening, it would show a bajillion intersections.

For example, Reedy Point Treasurer Aniela Mienhaldt, acted in “Jumping” and directed “Meant To Be,” all the while counting receipts as they rolled in. Brian Smith, the author of “Meant to Be” worked the lights for “Just Words,” written by Lyn Anderson and directed by Bill Potter. Mr. Potter wrote the play “Jumping,” which Ms. Anderson directed. Meanwhile, Marshal Manlove directed “Screaming into the Surf” written by Mr. Potter and everyone moved furniture for Joseph Pukatsch who wrote and directed “In The Bag.”

Actors from different shows ran lines with actors from other shows and each gave the other tips about voice projection and other stagecraft.

“The group of actors, directors, and writers who participated in the RPP 2018 One Act Festival were a wonderful example of how to behave in a competitive situation,” Ms. Meinhaldt said. “The collaborative and supportive atmosphere was inspiring. If only that type of support and collaboration went beyond our little theater, the world would be a better place.”

As shows went on and off the stage, the audience got to witness what can only be described as controlled chaos. Chairs, tables, wine bottles, and even extension ladders were moved, placed, and toted with lightning speed.

The stage at different times became the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a prison, a living room, and a kitchen.

When the last cast from the last show of the night took their bows at about 10 p.m., everyone leapt into action and dismantled the stage, lights, and put all the chairs away.

The audience, perhaps infected with the collaboration vibe, chipped in and within 30 minutes or so the Delaware City Community Center main floor was ready for the next week’s basketball game or Zumba class.

“Wow. That was crazy,” Mr. Potter said. “So much talent, so much cooperation. It all led to such a great night. Maybe that’s what puts the community in community theater.”

Just Words Slayed It Last Week

 

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The amazing cast of Just Words From L Shannon Carter; Sam Dressler, and Tom Slater

The cast and directing of Lyn Anderson’s play “Just Words” have been overshadowed by “Jumping” and “Meant To Be.” That’s probably my fault – at least as far as these blogs have gone.
So let me state for the record – such as there is one – that the cast of “Just Words” knocked it out of the park. They did exactly what I asked, and they worked their tails off.
They did great, but I should have done more.
I should have gone bigger. I should have added sight gags. I should have had Sam Dressler do a whole Art Carney routine about getting the scrabble tiles out of the bag; I should have had Shannon Carter really ham it up getting the cork out of the wine bottle; I should have added cell phone sounds, and I should have put Tom Slater in a dress.
Poop, poop, poop!
If I get another change with Tom, HE IS WEARING A DRESS! I don’t care what the role is.
Anyway, it was a great month and a half and am very proud of my cast. I just wanted to tell the world, that although two other shows are going forward to the state competition, my guys were superb, and they got the audience to laugh when they were supposed to. .
Oh by the way – we had a lot of fun. I guess that’s all you can hope for.

 

One of my favorite stupid short plays

Mrs. Johnson about 50 walks up to a pharmacy window, her hands are full of different things she ‘s bought to pad her order. She quietly puts the items on the counter and organizes them to make it easier for the Diane. She is very reserved – shy. The woman nervously pulls a prescription out of her pocket. The Diane begins ringing up the items

 

Diane

Okay. Spearmint gum. Mouthwash. Spice drops. You know I love spice drops they’re one of those quiet sellers. Everybody loves them, but nobody ever talks about them.

 

Mrs. Johnson

Yeah, I know.

 

Diane

When was the last time somebody said, ‘I had a great spice drop yesterday?’ You know? I mean I don’t think I ever heard that.

 

Mrs. Johnson

Nor I.

 

Diane

Weird huh? Let’s see what else we have? You’re Mrs. Johnson right?

 

Mrs. Johnson

Yes. Surprised you know that.

 

Diane

I try to remember everyone that comes here. You’ve been coming here for years. Customer service, that’s what I’m all about. Dishwashing detergent? A hand towel. What’s this? (beat, shouting) BETH! BETH!

 

Beth (the Pharmacist, shouting back)

WHAT! WHAT

 

Diane

How much are the Trojan condoms?!

 

Beth

WHAT!

 

Diane

Trojans? You know the ribbed condoms?

 

Mrs. Johnson

No that’s okay. I, I, I …

 

Beth

How would I know? You know the last time I needed condoms?

 

Diane

It doesn’t matter. Mrs. Johnson wants them. There not for you. (To Mrs. Johnson quietly) If she could get ahold of the stock boy she’d find them pretty quick.

 

Mrs. Johnson

Okay. I can do without.

 

Diane

Do without? Not on my watch. I’m getting you condoms. I got this. (the Diane gets on the loud speaker). Price check! Price check! (to Mrs. Johnson) What aisle?

 

Mrs. Johnson (in shock)

Nine.

 

Diane

Price check aisle nine Trojan ribbed condoms – color black. Do they have to be black?

 

Mrs. Johnson (quietly)

No uh, any color’s fine. I didn’t notice they were colored. Can I say colored? Should I say black? This is so confusing.

 

Diane

If you want it black, we’ll get you some black. (on the loud speaker) Any color’s fine, but she really likes them black.

 

Mrs. Johnson

Thank you but …

 

Beth (shouting)

Got ‘em. They have lubricant here too. Would you like some lubricant?

 

Mrs. Johnson

I, I, I don’t know. I, I, This wasn’t my idea.

 

Diane

Shoot some lubricant over too!

 

Beth walks over and hands the condoms and lubricant to the Diane.

 

Beth

I brought the regular stuff and the stuff that heats up after you apply it, you never know.

 

Mrs. Johnson

I wasn’t expecting so many choices. (beat) Thanks. I’ll take them both? It used to be easier.

 

Beth

Good thinking.

 

Diane nods conspiratorially

 

Diane

Is there anything else?

 

Mrs. Johnson

Just this?

 

Mrs. Johnson hands her a prescription.

 

Diane (Shouting again)

BETH! We have a prescription; need you over here.

 

Beth walks up and looks at the prescription.

 

Beth

Your doctor called this in already.

 

Mrs. Johnson

Thank you.

 

Beth

Diane can you get this for me? It’s right over there.

 

Beth gives Diane the prescription and

Diane rifles through some bins on a shelf

 

Diane (talking to herself really)

Viagra, Viagra, where is that now. It shouldn’t be that hard to find. You’d think it would just stick out.

 

Mrs. Johnson just watches in horror.

 

Beth

It’ll just be a second. Can you give me your insurance card?

 

Mrs. Johnson starts looking through her wallet.

 

Mrs. Johnson

It’s right here. Wait a minute.

 

Diane

Got it!

 

Diane brings a small white bag to Beth. Mrs. Johnson gets frantic looking through her purse

 

Mrs. Johnson

I can’t find my card.

 

Beth

I really need the card or your insurance won’t cover it.

 

Mrs. Johnson

But, I’ve been coming here for years. My insurance hasn’t changed.

 

Beth

I know that, but I need the card.

 

Mrs. Johnson (Almost hysterical)

And I need those pills. I need to see my husband’s manhood in full flower. The heat of his loins fully exposed. His hardness between, between, between my um, um, um. I (beat) Need (beat) Those (beat) GD pills! And I swear to God I will bring the insurance card in the morning. Do you have any idea how long it has been since I, I, I aaaaaaaaaaaah!

 

Beth and Diane stare at her for a moment

 

Beth

Okay. It’s not that big of a deal. They are only $15 bucks a pill without insurance. How many do you want?

 

Mrs. Johnson

$15 dollars! That’s just a bottle of wine! Give me thirty dollars worth – now. And ring this shit up.

 

Diane moves in and finishes ringing up the purchases

 

Diane

That’s $65. 33.

 

                                                                                    Mrs. Johnson gives her some bills grabs her

                                                                                    bags and runs out

 

Diane

Your change! Your change! (beat) Jeez what’s her problem?

 

Beth

She needs to get laid.

 

Diane

NO kidding!