Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A night of laughs

We had a great meeting last night with some of the funniest comedies ever read by our group.

We had 17 attendees, including one new actor, Tim's friend John Elwick. Two writers also sat it on the meeting, and promise to come back again with their own stuff next time. These included John Pansini and a recent transplant from Alabama, Jess Weaver.

Sadly, the great Phil Ginsburg was unable to make it, but for a very good reason. He was in rehearsal for Star Bar's production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which opens May 24. I guess we'll let it slide this time. For reservations, email the theatre company at or visit their EventBrite page.

We opened with Sue's rewrite of her original fairy tale, The Great Fire Serpent Tulikaarme. The story is a lot tighter and funnier now, and everyone loved Ashley Crockett's over-the-top portrayal of the crotchety old dragon.

Next we read a guest script with an intriguing backstory. Sue's nephew is in prison in Wisconsin, and he has a friend there named Sean White who's writing a play titled The Meaning of Life, and wants to know if he's on the right track. The work was quite raw, focusing on a physically abusive father and his relationship with his teenage son, but everyone agrees it shows a lot of promise. We recommended that the Sean keep going with it.

After that, we read the newest scene from my cocktail party farce, Butterfly Effect. It didn't get as many laughs as previous scenes, but I was happy with the flow as my protagonist is now taking more control in combating the chain of events threatening to ruin his carefully planned party. There was some disagreement over whether its 90-minute single-act format would work for audiences.

We followed that with the latest scenes from Charlie Ammen's redneck comedy, Beyond a Shadow. His characters are both charming and hilarious, playing against type in the way they genuinely love each other despite their economic challenges. Roy Kieffer and Mary Sprunger-Froese had some wonderful chemistry together. The section ended with the stunning revelation that Roy's character may be the schoolhouse stalker the whole town has been talking about.

Last up was Tim Phillips, who took a break from The Decibelles to bring us his submission to last year's FourPlay contest at the MAT, Kill Disco. The contest required each play to include a waffle iron or coconut and have a theme of "survival of the fittest". Tim's play was a hoot, featuring three dumb punkers out to steal a disco ball. Our newest actor John Elwick proved his comedy chops as one of the punkers.

This was our last meeting at the old MAT location. Next month, we'll be meeting at their new location at 1626 S. Tejon, right across from the Blue Star Restaurant (and, more importantly, Bristol Brewing). The space will be under construction for much of the summer, but Jim and Birgitta promise they'll find room for us. I can't wait to check it out.

And I thanks to Sue and Mary for bringing some delicious homemade cookies.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Drama Lab writers win Rough Writers Play Festival

Yesterday, the Fine Arts Center announced the winners of their first-ever Rough Writers Play Festival, and I take great pride in pointing out that both winners are members of the Drama Lab.

Marisa Hebert's biting family drama Pieces of Him was named the full-length winner and Sue Bachman's tender comedy Disposing of Grandma was the short-play winner. Both works will get a full production at the FAC next year. Read all about it on the FAC blog.

Congratulations, Marisa and Sue! I can't wait to see your works on stage.