Posted in festival of short plays, Summer Shorts

It’s that sweet time: Summer Shorts is here again

I love the short-form play. Like condensed milk, it’s made a little richer and sweeter for the concentration.

Its flavor is similar to but different from the original, of course, but  more potent and easier to whip into a frenzy of thoughts and ideas.

The challenge for the playwrights is, as always, to make their point fresh and cogent in a brief time. These are mini one acts!

The schedule for this year’s Summer Shorts is:

Series A– The Sky and the Limit by Roger Hedden, directed by Billy Hopkins

Much to the amusement of his best friend, a young man dives into one of America’s mesa strewn deserts in search of the perfect site for a wedding.
Riverbed by Eric Lane, directed by Matthew Rauch
A lyrical drama about a married couple that experiences an intense loss and their struggle to find their way back to each other.
Sec. 310, Row D, Seats 5 and 6 by Warren Leight, director TBA
Three guys share two season tickets as they watch the Knicks, and their lives, pass before their eyes.


Series B–Doubtless by Albert Innaurato, directed by Jack Hofsiss

With such formidable opponents as hypocrisy, government, hysteria, neurosis, family, religion and pop culture – can we ever really know and accept who we are?  Well, these two brave nuns are going to give it a go!   

The Mulberry Bush by Neil Labute, directed by Maria Mileaf
Two men meet up on a bench in the park. One of them is meant to be there. The other is not. What follows is a domestic thriller played out in the harsh sunlight of a weekday afternoon.

Napoleon in Exile by Daniel Reitz, directed by Paul Schnee 
Corey is 25, living at home, can’t hold a job, and is obsessed with Minecraft. His mother has other ideas for him.

Catch them at 59E59 Theaters now. And come back to this space for our commentary.
Posted in comedy, dance, fairytale, festival of short plays, fox, known playwrights, monologues, politically incorrect, racism, stand up, stepfather, teens, vignettes

Squeeze out a little more of the season with "Summer Shorts 5" but we’re done with Mark Morris for now

What brings an award-winning seventeen year old playwright (Ruby Rae Spiegel), a famously controversial one (Neil LaBute), a long-established and much respected theater writer (Christopher Durang) and an up-and-coming voice of off-Broadway (Alexander Dinelaris) to the same stage?

It’s “Summer Shorts,” a festival of plays defined by their brevity, now in its fifth year at 59E59 Theaters through September 3rd! The challenge of “Summer Shorts” is to create a complete play within a time constraint of approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Each “short” is expected to have a full arc, but they need not be strictly speaking, and most of the selection presented by the authors above in the Series A repertory is not, one-act offerings. Some are comprised of several scenes, that shift in location, and introduce their characters. Some are monologues.

Since it is not easy to present a beginning, middle and end in such a short form, some of the plays succeed better than others.

Lydia Weintraub (left) and Louise Sullivan in Ruby Rae Spiegel’s “Carrie & Francine.” 

Each bill offers four little vignettes, and in “Summer Shorts 5– Series A” , the offerings included:

Neil LaBute’s “The New Testament” proves to be not just a very funny, well-paced work, it also tells its story cogently, under the direction of Dolores Rice, tantalizing out the details of its brilliantly simple plot. Jeff Binder, with foils in Mando Alvarado and James Chen, is particularly adept in this little tale of racism and self-righteousness.

“In This, Our Time…,” Alexander Dinelaris paints vivid portraits of a troubled modern
family. JJ Kandel directs the dynamic cast in a minimalist dramatic work that mystifies with an unsatisfactory ending.

Erin Darke and Ted Koch in a scene from In This, Our Time… by Alexander Dinelaris, directed By J.J. Kandel, part of SUMMER SHORTS 5 Series A.ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN SHORT PLAYS Photo Credit: Rahav Segev 

“Triple Trouble with Love” is Christopher Durang’s entertaining stand up comedy of a play about the perils of relationship. It features Nick Choksi, Beth Hoyt, and Aidan Sullivan in a triptych to dysfunction.

Ruby Rae Spiegel’s “Carrie & Francine,” despite a complete plot line, manages to feel fragmental and, well, incomplete.
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No Mozart this time around from Mark Morris Dance Group at “Mostly Mozart Festival”

There was no Mozart in the Mostly Mozart Festival presentation by Mark Morris Dance Group at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre in the Time Warner Center from August 18th through 20th. The much-touted New York premiere of “Renard,” set to a score by Igor Stravinsky that was played by the skillful MMDG Musical Ensemble under the baton of Stefan Asbury, fell under the Sravinsky Too rubric, however.

(See a video of typical Morris dancing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeFyYFxTqtQ)

Also on the program was last year’s sensation– “Socrates,” a piece choreographed to music by Erik Satie– which is certainly dynamic, but the dance to celebrate on this program is “Festival Dances,” set to Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Piano Trio in E Major, Opus 83. “Festival Dances” is a beautiful and gentle work in the spirit of Agnes DeMille with plenty of balletic influence.

Both “Renard,” which is a comedic piece, and “Socrates” make fine use of vocal accompaniments. Renard is adorable, acrobatic, and reminiscent of silent films. The costumes by Maira Kalman with labels naming each of the characters beginning on the front of their shirts and ending on the back and little headpieces of crowns or ears are imaginative and simple. The Cock’s Chics are dressed like 1960’s cheerleaders in crinolined skirts so when Cock breaks out into a little endzone dance it just feels right. The stylized violence also seems appropriate for the story.

Visit markmorrisdancegroup.org to find a schedule for future MMDG performances.

To find a schedule for Summer Shorts5, go to 59E59.org