Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spring is in the air

We've had an unusually wet May, with a surprise hailstorm and one last (let's hope!) snowstorm on Saturday, but there's no mistaking the generally warmer temperatures and the budding leaves on the trees. Springtime is here!

We had a great meeting last night, with 13 people attending, including two new actors: Danine Schell, who is well-known for her performances in numerous local plays as well as the Colorado Renaissance Faire, and Scott Loring, who was the drama teacher at Widefield High School for 20 years. Scott is also a writer, and I encouraged him to bring some of his stuff to the next meeting. Greetings and a big Drama Lab welcome to both of you!

We moved along at a good clip, reading six plays in two and a half hours. We opened with the first scene of Hemlock, a hilariously dark comedy by Chuck Cabell. In it, a pair of brothers find a solution for their struggling funeral home business when they realize they can make more money if they control the "raw materials". The hook is a great one and the characters were very well-drawn.

Next up was Penny from Heaven, the latest in August Mergelman's series of short plays exploring world theatrical traditions. This one was a vaudeville version of Pinocchio. People loved the rapid pace and the continuous flow of gags.

After that we read the next scene from cocktail party farce, Butterfly Effect. Here we saw the pompous boss Henry down an entire pork roast after a misfired rescue flare cut off the cottage's power. There was one question whether the pork would be that raw if it had been in the oven for an hour. Others commented that the play continues to move along well but that this section seemed less British than previous sections.

We next read Sue Bachman's short family drama, What A Mother Knows. This play started out as several loosely related scenes about a Depression-era girl named Missy, but after receiving some helpful feedback from Jess Weaver, Sue decided to use them as flashbacks, tying them together through the framing device of a grown Missy facing an unwanted pregnancy. Everyone agreed that the scenes worked much better this way, with the framing device lending them a deeper significance.

This was followed by a couple of new scenes from Tim Phillips' Prohibition-era drama, Abigail Finds Love. Here we're introduced to Iva, the former fiancee of piano player Paul, who has now joined the Salvation Army and wants to make sure Paul is staying free from worldly temptations. The audience liked the addition of this character and suggested additional directions that she could be taken.

We wrapped up the evening with a rewrite of Deirdre Gilbert's short comedy Capsaicin. This time, she relocated the play to Indiana, which allowed for some fun wordplay centered around that state's unusual use of the word "mangoes". Commenters liked the mother's struggle to accept her granddaughter's unusual name, Tasman, as it seemed to symbolize her struggle to accept the many difficult changes in her life, something with which many people could relate.

Our next meeting is Monday, June 8. See you then!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Drama Lab members win two local contests

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has announced the winning plays for their Georgia O'Keeffe-themed Rough Writers New Play Festival. Eight plays were selected, including four from national playwrights, but it was a Drama Lab sweep for the local slots with all four going to longtime members of our cozy little group.

The winners are:

Sue Bachman, Georgia On His Mind
Jess Weaver, The Last Rabbit
Grant Swenson, Mary and Georgia
Todd Wallinger, The Real Meaning of Things

You can catch all four at the same time as the FAC will be reading them together as part of a single program. The reading is at 8pm on Saturday, June 7 and Saturday, June 13 in the upstairs Music Room. To learn more, visit the FAC website.

Just as exciting, Black Box Theatre announced that Lulu's Box by Drama Lab member Tim Phillips was selected to be performed at the Fives New Play Festival on June 25-27. We're all very happy for him!

Black Box's Nancy Holaday sent word that she could really use more guys to audition. Auditions are May 11-14. For more info, visit the Black Box Theatre website.

I highly encourage you to attend to one or both of these festivals. Not only will you be supporting these local playwrights, but just as importantly, you'll be supporting theatre companies that support local playwrights.

See you at the theatre!