Sunday, December 18, 2011

Theatre in NYC: Long Shotz Arrivals and Departures

Saturday was the closing performance of Long Shotz: Departures. My half-hour play, ROSARY, went up five times as a part of this event, and I'm not really sure how to go about describing my experience. Yeah, I know, I'm a writer so I'm supposed to be good at the whole words thing, but... well, sometimes words don't make the shapes you want them to.

I started working the Amios, the theatre group that put together Long Shotz on their monthly project: Shotz. On the first Monday of every month, they put on a show of six short plays. The plays are hilarious, moving, and, more often than not, really fucking good. I first joined these fine folks in December 2010. Rob Hille directed by play Jelly Pants, which starred Jennifer Le Blanc (who I knew prior staged readings), Alanna Wilson, and Dan Balkin. It was about a girl (alive), her sister (ghost), and her date (confused). Also Christmas. Rob and the cast really impressed me with... well, how much better the performance was than the actual script. Humbling, that.

Fast forward to nowish. Since then, I've written a hell of a lot of short plays for Shotz (Shadow Freude vs. Captain Happy Socks; Lesbianism isn't Contagious, You're Just Gay; Bargaining with Dragons; Furry Cuffs; and The Moment that Something Slips Your Mind). I was thrilled to be invited to participate in their Long Shotz event (six half an hour plays, half of 'em about leaving NYC forever, and the other half about arriving in NYC) and knew that I wanted to gather the folks that made Jelly Pants so good. Rob Hille, director and miracle man, worked with me throughout, making the script stronger with his brilliant ideas. I was lucky enough to have Jennifer Le Blanc and Alanna Wilson, two of the best actresses in the city, giving life to my words again. And then, there's Zach Evenson. This fine gentleman took a character that could've been... well, could've been a cardboard cutout and made him into a human. And, as Zach himself once said, "kind of a goober."

Rosary is about... well, putting childish things away. It's about realizing who you are, realizing how you've changed, wondering what Old You would think of Now You, and asking yourself the important question: "Am I a good person?" The play is very, very close to my heart, and probably the most personal thing I've done in theatre. Granted, it's about lesbians and priest, and I can't really say that I'm either of those, but it's still a big piece of me. Hell, it's a lot more than a piece. So I guess the whole point of this blog is to thank Rob, Jennifer, Alanna, and Zach for doing such a lovely job. I'm going to miss seeing this play go up - so I'm going to submit it like hell to everyone who will read it. Let's see if we can get this thing produced again.

While it was thrilling to see such brilliant people deliver my words, it was also great to see the other five plays that made up LongShotz (both Arrivals and Departures). The other two Departures plays were The Counter Offer and Whatever Happened to Baby Ngozi? The Counter Offer was laugh out loud funny and the cast (Justin Yorio, Kelli Crup, and Jenna Panther) had the incredible chemistry it took to sustain the energy and humor. Whatever Happened boasts Michael Fulvio's best performance - and trust me, that's saying a lot - and introduced me to Rob Robinson, who kicked a lot of ass. Also, best use of a scarf in a play.

The Arrivals show, which I finally caught last night, was just as great. It kicks off with Imogene Byrd's One Step Beyond, which examines the tediousness of marriage and motherhood in a surprising and fresh way. Then we get to Little China, a play about lurches, jerks, cats, and lesbians (I sense a theme...) written by Justin Yorio, who shows that he isn't just one of the funniest actors in theatre... he's also a damn good writer. The night ends on a somber, weird, hilarious, and moving note with P. Seth Bauer's The Very True Chronicles of Aloysius the Traveller, in the Great Land of New York City. The writing is great, moving at an incredible pace from balls out ridiculous to quietly pensive with surprising grace. Christian Haines, the mastermind behind amios, plays a damn good insane traveller/Christ figure. The play perplexes in ways both humorous and philosophical, and... well, I wish I was able to see it more than just the once.

I'll try to not make this pretentious, but if you want to see amazing theatre, check out amios. I'm not just saying that because I've written for them. I keep going back to them because these folks are talented, consistent, and overall damn wonderful.

Now, off to write. And grade. And do the holiday thing. Oh joy.

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