The Cary Theater on Chatham St. hosted the Cary Playwrights’ Forum’s first annual PlaySlam! on Saturday, April 2nd. A sold-out house enjoyed 24 three-minute plays and a 25th show — the expert showmanship of producer/master of ceremonies Thom Haynes. And the evening ended with yet a 26th show — the countdown to the winner of the $100 prize.
The forum’s PlaySlam 2016! was a competition, and the audience was the judge. Twelve playwrights (winnowed down from this year’s 38 submissions) each brought two three-minute scripts, and they met with their casts for rehearsal that Saturday afternoon.
Round One: Twelve plays consisted of one play by each playwright. The audience then voted — with audience members circling their top six choices. Then there was an intermission during which the ballots were tabulated. The top six vote-getters won the chance to compete in the next round.
Round Two: The playwrights of the six winning plays from Round One each put up a second play. The audience then voted, picking their single top choice.
Round Three: While the Round Two ballots were being tabulated, the second plays by all of the other six playwrights were presented.
Round Four: Thom Haynes played the awards presentation to the hilt, spoofing a certain recent beauty pageant!
And the content of the plays was nothing short of fantastic!
Have you ever imagined doing CPR on a mouse? And having to do so to save your marriage?
Or analyzing a ballet lift using a computer and Newton’s Laws of Motion — an analysis that could lead to divorce?
Or somebody answering “I could have been an axe murderer” with “You don’t even own an axe”?
How about directing Shakespeare at a retirement center and having problems getting your cast to understand how to use their microphones?
Then there’s the “reformed” pick-pocket mime “with the voice of an angel.”
Then there’s a play whose title asks the question “Party of One?” And the script answers it in a number of comical ways.
And another play with the interesting device of parallel conversations between a pair of lovers — one taking place in 1969 and the other in 2016.
How about mail-ordering a kangaroo? Watching a scary movie and being scared to death? Sitting on a neighbor’s porch, discussing impending bad weather? Opening a series of fortune cookies with ominous-sounding fortunes?
While most of the scripts were laugh-fest delights, a few dealt with serious questions, such as visiting a grandfather who doesn’t recognize you or being visited by a grown daughter who had never been born.
Combine top-notch writing with splendid acting, and picking favorites from these was quite difficult.
The 12 playwrights included: Andy Ralston-Asumendi, Bill Garrity, Cari Hopson, Ginger Bate, Gus Allen, John Paul Middlesworth, John Paul Harris, Kat Froehlich, Laura Arwood, Lydia Sbityakov, Madeline Desautels, and Wim Coleman. Middlesworth was the eventual winner.
Among the joys of an event like this: being involved in the show as audience-judges and seeing first-time (and possibly only) performances of brand-new scripts. We are glad this event will be repeated annually.
PLAYSLAM 2016! (Cary Playwrights’ Forum, April 2 at The Cary Theater).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
EDITOR’S NOTE: 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.