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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 6 years ago

Curtain Call: A first look at The Players Theatre New Play Festival

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by: Amanda Heisey

There’s something interesting happening at The Players Theatre of Sarasota  this week, and I guarantee it’s cheaper than a movie. Also, it’s inside, which is great news, because of mosquitoes and back sweat. This could also be a good dating opportunity … just saying. Look cultured; it’s hot.

Have I convinced you yet?

Good.

I’m talking about The New Play Festival. It started Monday, but there will be a 7:30 p.m. show each night through Saturday. Each play was written by a local playwright and has never been seen or heard by an audience before. That means you'll be the first to experience these stories. The. first. That’s kind of a big deal.

Some of the shows from past New Play Festivals have gone on to be performed in major cities around the country. Wouldn’t that be a great story to tell your friends if you were the first to witness the next "August Osage County?" It would be. Trust me.

The show is different from night to night, and when I say different, I mean REALLY different. You might've missed the love story, "One Magic Moment," by Marvin Albert, but don’t freak out. There are plenty more for you to choose from:

  • Tonight, you can catch Ron Pantello's "Grandpa Knows Best" — the very Floridian story of a hip grandpa who teaches other grandparents how to live fuller lives. Old folks gone wild!
  • Wednesday will be "Hot Air" by Mark Kenneally, and it's going to be a good one (I might be a little biased, since I’m in it.) If you want to be amused or just need a good laugh, this is the show for you. A newly married couple has some trouble with a hot air balloon — that’s all you need to know.
  • Thursday's play, "Anatomically Speaking," by Llywelyn Jones, is the exact opposite of lighthearted. You might be feeling a little existential recently. If so, this might be your show. A man on the operating table has a conversation about life and death with his internal organs.
  • Saturday's play, "Not Our Time," by Bernard Yanelli might be of interest to you history buffs out there. It tells the story of a black football star struggling in 1969 in the rural South.

Make a night of it. You can only spend so many nights on your couch watching reruns of "Family Guy," right? Right. Also, there’s a bar, so if unwinding with a glass of wine is your thing, you can still do that somewhere other than on your couch in yoga pants.

These are staged readings by local actors (like me!), so don’t expect a set or anything. We get to hold our scripts and a narrator reads the stage directions (what the setting looks like, if a character slaps another character, that kind of thing). These performances give the audience and judges a good idea of what the play will look like eventually. Then, the winning play (there is a winner in theatre sometimes, y’all — you know, like sportball) will be performed next summer with a set and costumes and everything.

There you go. Experience new things. You might like it — you never know!

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