Monthly Archives: April 2012
ABOUT THE CONTEST:
DrekFest 2012 is Stage Left’s annual, national search for America’s worst ten-minute play. Now in its sixth year, DrekFest is on a mission to expose bad writing for what it really is: damn funny. To be clear, we are not out to make fun of writers or those who love them. We are asking good writers to intentionally write awful plays that make us laugh.
We are now accepting submissions for bad, bad ten-minute plays. Of these, four terrible finalists will be selected to be performed on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at The ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont. The audience in attendance will vote on the Grand Prize-winning Worst Play.
Cash prizes will be given to all four finalists, as well as other highly coveted honors for the truly terrible. In addition to Worst Play, prizes that may be awarded by our panel of adjudicators include those for Worst Title, Worst Opening Line, Worst Stage Directionand Worst Character Name, among others.
All plays will be performed as staged readings with minimal or no tech, and all stage directions will be read aloud. After all four plays have been read, the writers will join the panelists onstage for a mock critique (safe, and all in good fun), during which the awards will be given. Previous panels have included theater critic and professor, Jonathan Abarbanel, Steppenwolf Managing Director David Schmitz, ComedySportz President and CEO Matt Elwell, Chicago Dramatists Managing Director Brian Loevner and nationally known playwright Mia McCullough.
Past DrekFest Grand Losers are Jamie Campbell in 2011 for A Fist Before Dying, Jake Lindquist in 2010 for Man Vs. Carp: An Environmental Tale Exploring Mostly, but not Exclusively, the Themes of Tolerance, Immigration, Conservation, and a General Understanding of the Problems Going on in the World Today, Randall Colburn in 2009 for ’SCARECROW’ OR SOME SHIT, CALL IT WHATEVER YOU F***ING WANT, I DON’T CARE. A F***ing Harsh Play About Scarecrows and Killing Bitches, and Rob Kozlowski in both 2008 and 2007 for The Frenzied Beating of the Jungle Tom-Toms Once More, Once More and Wilhelm Ferguson, Nationally Renowned Playwright, in the Midst of the Production of his Holocaust Play The Holocaust, Falls in Love with a Wheelchair-Bound Vietnam Veteran with AIDS, Whose Name Remains Unknown, Like So Many Others Like Him” respectively.
Stage Left is proud to again partner with The ComedySportz Theatre for DrekFest 2012. ComedySportz team members will be joining Stage Left and our guest directors in staging the four finalists.
If it’s not already painfully clear, we want the funny! Preference will be given to scripts that make us laugh. Here are the submission guidelines:
DEADLINE: Submissions must be received by Friday, June 1, 2012 (note, this is not postmark date, it is a “received by” date).
Plays must perform at ten minutes or less (remember that stage directions will be read aloud)
Maximum of 5 actors per script (however, write as many characters as you please). DrekFest 2012 WILL BE TIMED. Plays exceeding 10 minutes will be ended with the sound of an annoying buzzer and action will be stopped immediately. Seriously. Keep it short.
There are no limitations on genre or subject matter. Even though Stage Left’s mission is to raise political and social debate, we know that bad writing knows no genre, so don’t worry about adhering to the mission for this contest.
We will be using a Blind Submission process. Please include the following materials with your submission:
- A cover letter on a separate sheet of paper, included in the envelope with your play (or as a separate attachment, if emailing). Envelopes and emails will not be opened by judges, only by non-judge staff members. List your contact info, including name, phone, email & street address on your cover letter.
- Your resume.
- Your availability to be in Chicago on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Given the economy and the state of arts funding, Stage Left cannot provide travel support. You do not need to be able to travel to Chicago in order to send a submission to DrekFest; however, most of the fun is in being there!
- Your play(s). Do NOT include your name, by-line or contact info on the play itself. If mailed, plays must be clipped or bound in such a way that the pages can be easily separated for copying – no spiral bindings.
- Your submission fee of $10.00 per play (e.g., $20.00 if you submit two plays). All submission fees will go entirely towards the cash prizes awarded to the winners. If mailing, include a check made out to “Stage Left Theatre.” If emailing, call us at 773-883-8830 x5 by Friday, June 1st to charge your fee to a Visa or MasterCard. Credit card payments will have an additional $1 added.
A Note About Cash Prizes:
One hundred percent of the submission fees paid go back into the cash prizes. Therefore, the amount of the prizes will depend on the number of submissions we get. In past years, the Grand Prize has ranged from $300.00 to $400.00, and may be less or more as submissions warrant.
Please mail your submissions to:
Stage Left Theatre
3408 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
― OR ―
Email your submissions to:
For questions or info, please contact:
Vance Smith, Artistic Director, at 773-883-8830
By Lazlo Collins
Collaboraction’s “Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” takes the audience on an 80 minute drive with son Denny (Ethan Dubin,) and father Ky (Sean Bolger). What is unique about this particular drive is this memory play’s approach to the material and dialogue. The ambient sounds of the road and the visual images surrounding the set help keep this simple story in focus. The divorced father picking up his son from soccer and bringing him home is duplicated hundreds of times all over the globe. As the ride goes on, we get a sense of the strained relationship of the two gentlemen.
Both roles were excellently played by Mr. Bolger, as the father; and Mr. Dubin as the son. Their banter, while seated in the car, was realistic; complete with all the fighting and
ncomfortable moments when forced to be in the car with your parent. Under the well done direction of Sarah Moeller, their immediate energy was excellent and you could sense they were comfortable with each other as actors, while they took the script through its twists and turns. I felt that they were really listening to each other and not just “acting”. I enjoyed both characterizations; despite the fact the father would not be one of my favorite people in real life. And kudos to you Mr. Bolger for making me like you in the end.
It’s the normal chatter between parent and child; but wait, as the engine roars so do the arguments and opinions. Is the mother to blame? Is the father not listening? Is the son both curious and disgusted by his parents?
Exploring these questions within the theme of the play can be difficult. The story seemed to move forward, then move back; from bright to dark and so on. At times, this exemplified the conflict and unrest; but at other times the choppiness of the dialogue muddled the simple story. I realize that the play’s construction was a calculated construct to keep guessing, but also keeping us informed. Somehow it took away from the emotional impact of the play. While Dan LeFranc’s script seemed real, the characters breathed life into this simple story.
The designers did a stunning job at creating the car and its surroundings. The video and sound designs were superb and should be considered characters themselves as they continually surrounded the actors. I could not imagine this play without these elements.
“Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” was a mostly satisfying drive; but, at times, I wanted to get out and stretch my legs. Perhaps it was the inherent comfortableness between father, son, and circumstance that made the ride a bit long for me. But maybe that is what the author set out to highlight and observe.
Without giving anything away, I will say that when the characters got out of the car at the end, it was distracting and completely took me out of the drive. The final scene would have served me much better as a memory on film that I might remember and smile; instead it seemed hokey.
But like all scenic tours, it is up to us what we view out our window, and what we remember from the ride. I recommend you go the distance on your “Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” and see where your memory takes you.
“Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” runs through 27 May 2012 at Collaboration. At the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N Milwaukee Ave. 312-226-9633 or collaboraction.org
COURT THEATRE PRESENT: ANGELS IN AMERICA:
Under the direction of Charles Newell, Court Theatre presented the Tony Award play Angels in America Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. By combining both plays in one day we are talking seven and a half hours in the theatre ,with a 2 hour break for dinner. My recommendation, do this in two days to really understand the play and not be overwhelmed by all that is going on. Angels is a gay fantasy based on national themes during the 1980′s, and the story of seven people and how their lives became interwoven with the crisis of the AIDS epidemic.
Court Theatre has put together an outstanding cast. Rob Lindley plays Prior Walter the main character of both stories who struggles with the loss of love and the world after being diagnosed with AIDS. Eddie Bennett plays Louis Ironson a hard headed idealist who dumps Prior when he is diagnosed with the disease and then seduces Joe Pitt (played by Geoff Packard) a newly married , closeted Mormon lawyer who works in the law office of Roy Cohn (brilliantly played by Larry Yando). Cohen is a famous lawyer who got his start back in the 1950’s during the McCarthy trials and helped prosecute Ethel Rosenberg , who’s ghost haunts him during his dying days The one true comic effect of the play comes from Belize (Michael Pogue) the male nurse and best friend of Prior Walter. Belize adds humor to a play that can be depressing to say the least. At times it makes you want to reach for the prozac due to some hard writing about the AIDS epidemic. Hollis Resnik plays Hannah Pitt the mother of Joe Pitt who comes from Utah to take care of his pill popping wife Harper Pitt played by Heidi Kettenring . The angel in the play is Mary Beth Fisher who has the look of a true angel and floats above the stage very convincing.
When I first saw Angels 15 years ago the staging was simple, But John Culbert has created a set that is flawless and keeps your attention for the entire duration of the show.
This play has a new ending that Tony Kushner wrote several years ago when he brought the play back to Broadway. The problem is he needed to cut one of the four possible endings out. By adding an extra 20 minutes it becomes a bit too long and you may lose your audience during that time. My only wish is that Mr Kushner would have tried to add some true facts to the play after 20 years. Instead of putting the blame on the President of the United States for not doing enough to solve the epidemic, maybe mention that the U.S. Government spent $155 million in the early days 1982 to 1984 and $5.7 billion during 1984 to 1989 on this epidemic. But then it would take some of the drama out of the play if you didn’t have a fall guy.
But even with those small faults this is a must see play. Relevant today with the same problems were still having today with AIDS as it was 25 years ago. But I still recommend breaking it up over two days.
Angels plays till June 3rd 2012.
Frank Meccia: Co-Host of Chicago Theatre Review