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A Fun Night at the Theatre: APE’s 24 Hour Play Fest, Review

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Review of Art in the Public Eye’s 24 Hour Play Fest

Local Artists Perform to a Sold Out Crowd at the Wood Theater

Paul Daniel West and Emily Murphy in Apartment 37 at the 24 Hour Play Fest. Photo by Tim Harris of the Adirondack Photographic SocietyWith the success of this year’s 24 Hour Play Fest in Glens Falls, plans are already underway for a 2014 edition.

Spearheaded by Art in the Public Eye (APE), this year’s event held at the Wood Theater on February 16th, provided a great opportunity for local writers, actors and directors to create a diverse evening of theater within a 24 hour time frame, before a sold out crowd.

Close to 60 participants were broken up into ten teams and given 24 hours to write, produce and direct a 10 minute play. Each team was named after local businesses who sponsored the event. A recurring theme of the seven deadly sins was at the heart of project, with each sin being used to great effect in each piece. The participants were also given a secret prop, in this case a pineapple, to be utilized during the course of each play. Featuring an eclectic blend of styles, the overall vibe was one of guerrilla theatre, which allowed for some some very equally interesting and bizarre (in a good way) theatrical explorations, with a limited amount of props or scenery. Members of the audience were given secret ballots to fill out their choices for best play, actor, actress and director, which were announced at the end of the show.

In this type of environment, creating a play within such a short span of time can be a daunting task. Collaboration can be difficult, especially when numerous people are involved in bringing one vision to fruition, so all the participants should be congratulated for an entertaining night of theatre that ranged from drama to comedy to experimental.

This year’s highlights included:

Written by Randy Girard and directed by Kayla Toney, Sandy Stone started off the evening with a surrealist bent as three tortured individuals spend what seems to be an eternity in the lobby of a law office, where personalities clashed, vicious (yet comical) insults were traded and threats made. Quirky, comical and mysterious, it helped set the tone for the evening.

Dinner for Two, written by Maxim Van Scoy and directed by Garrett West, was a whimsical look at two potential mothers in law meeting for the first time at the urging of a young couple. Things don’t go so great from the get go as the two mothers compete endlessly in an effort to outdo one another. The two actresses portraying the mothers were terrific, giving broadly comical and entertaining performances.

Written by Christopher Phelps and directed by Peter Carrolan, Apartment 37 had real potential, keeping in the spirit of an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, by its trancelike and supernatural quality, in which a couple’s quiet night at home is disrupted by ominous sounds next door. The sudden appearance of a mysterious and catatonic girl alters the lives of the couple.

As mentioned before, the staging for the evening was very bare bones; there was no elaborate scenery or backdrops, obviously due to the limited time to produce the shows. However, Strings and Things (written by Jenny Golightly and directed by Mickey Luce) opened with an unique sequence in which actresses Deborah Bernard and Kendra Schieber were backlit behind a white screen; coming out from behind the screen, the stage featured an apparatus of rings, elastic bands and cords in which the actors inserted their arms to give off the impression that they were marionettes.

Charlotte Pines in Fill in the Gap at the 24 Hour Play Fest. Photo by Tim Harris of the Adirondack Photographic SocietyWritten by Team East End Eatery and directed by Mindy Morse, Seven Deadly Shows was a quirky and uproarious comical spoof of reality shows, featuring zombies as the participants. The piece gave four different perspectives of an incident in a style reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, and was clearly enhanced by John Miller’s engaging performance, yet it was seriously hampered at times by unfortunate sound issues, making some of the dialogue inaudible.

Fill in the Gap, written by Tom Gonyea and directed by Ruth Liberman, was wonderfully odd, warped and highly entertaining, as it focused on three equally quirky women (Charlotte Pines was a riot as Babs, who has an obsession with dip and refuses to ever leave the couch) with diverse personalities  who consult with a counselor to help find a new roommate. This was an all around rock solid piece, that was intentionally wacky and consistently funny.

While all the plays were interesting, some felt fragmented, which seemed due to the limited time frame in which writing, casting and blocking all came into play. While some of the pieces offered intriguing possibilities, it would be interesting to see these eventually expanded upon, as some felt to be greater parts of a whole, larger piece, while others, such as Apartment 37 and Fill in the Gap for example, worked on their own as short pieces.

Short spoken word performances by Laura Lightfoote with John Miller (who appeared in Seven Deadly Shows) accompanying on cello, were interspersed between each play. While the readings were interesting, and with so many performers involved in the festival, it might be a neat idea for future festivals to incorporate, along with the spoken word, other types of performance in between the plays to complement the variety of the evening.

If you happened to miss the show, you can click here to order copies on DVD and see a full list of the evening’s winners.

Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of The Free George. Photos by Tim Harris of the Adirondack Photographic Society.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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