The 14th Annual PlaySlam!, presented by on Oct. 1st at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro by OdysseyStage Theater and the Playwrights Roundtable, was a combination of theater and spectator sport. It consisted of 26 original stories in the form of three-minute plays — plays written by 13 local playwrights, selected from a wide field of submissions.
It’s also a competition, and the audience is the judge. You watch ‘em; you judge ‘em. The winning playwright wins $100; and in case that doesn’t set the bar high enough, the actors only have one day to prepare.
ALSO: The three-minute limit is strictly enforced — each play ends when the clock runs out whether it is finished or not.
Upon arrival, audience members are each presented with a ballot listing the 13 plays that constitute Round One, one play by each of the 13 playwrights. The emcee announces the first play. The house lights go down, and the first play is performed. The house lights come up, and the audience rates the play on a scale of one-to-ten.
The emcee announces the second play. The house lights go down, etc., etc., etc.
When the Round One is finished, the audience members vote by circling the names of the six plays they felt were the best. During an intermission, the ballots are collected and tabulated; and the authors of the top six vote-getters then present a second play. Then the audience votes again, this time choosing only one play. While these votes are being counted, the second submissions by the other playwrights are performed. There is no voting on these; they are just for entertainment.
The evening was definitely fun, but it was not without a few glitches. At times, some of the actors were difficult to hear, so some of the plays could not be properly appreciated. Also, there were a few errors in blocking that resulted in actors playing with their backs to the audience.
And our Department of Picky-Picky felt that the audience needed a bit more time with the lights up between the plays in order to properly evaluate them. All that said, PlaySlam! is a great way to spend an evening.
While most of this year’s entries were comedies, there were some that dealt with serious subjects.
The titles in Round One included: “Roger the Linebacker,” “Dark Day for Hinkley J.,” “Waiting for Mrs. Peahen,” “Hold the Elevator,” “The Dangers of a Random Bookreading,” “Last Words” “Not Kosher,” “Upgrade,” “The Babysitter,” “Dying Last Words,” “Making a Hit,” “Haiku Finals,” and “Tough Turkey.”
Round Two included: “Dying as a Spectator Sport”; “Margie Plays Piano,Too”; “The Memory Collector”; “The Happy Couple”; “I Love You More”; and “The Seven-Year Pic.”
Something to keep in mind: PlaySlam! could be the only time that some of these scripts are ever performed. You miss PlaySlam!, and you miss these plays.
The participating actors were: Abby Overton, Amanda Scherle, Andrea Bloch, Ashley Popio, David Klionsky, Deborah Klinger, Drew Guilano, Gerald Rubin, John Ivey, Julya Mirro, Justin Peoples, Leigha Vilen, Liza Guzman. Nick Popio, Nicola Leffler, Noah Liberman, Noelle Azaralo, and Simon Kaplan.
This year’s playwrights included: Annie Taft, Chuck Keith, Danielle Fenton, Hugh Oyake Murchison, Jack Berry, John Boni, John Paul Middlesworth, Jorie Slodki, Laura Arwood, Lydia Sbityakov, Mario Kersey, Paul Baerman, and Richard Krawiec.
This year’s winner was Annie Taft — for the third year in a row!
PlaySlam! is an annual event presented in the fall by Odyssey Stage and The Playwright’s Roundtable. We recommend putting it on your calendar for next year.
NOTE: The Cary Playwrights’ Forum will host a similar PlaySlam! event in the spring.
14th Annual PLAYSLAM! (Odyssey Stage and the Playwrights Roundtable, Oct. 1 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro).
Odyssey Stage: http://www.odysseystage.org/.
Playwrights Roundtable: https://www.facebook.com/playwrightsroundtable.
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Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.