Seven Plays Shine in Fusion's Short Works Festival
The submissions from 38 states and eight countries were read and selected by theatre experts who included festival curator Jen Grigg, John Hardman, Gil Lazier and Levi Shrader. The top seven are being produced as part of a two-week run, each directed by an experienced local director. Each year I page through the seven winners and the many finalists looking for New Mexico playwrights. This year, alas, all are from beyond our borders. The consolation is that each one is a treat.
I'm a sucker for a short play, just as I love short stories. It takes a lot of dramatic juice to clobber you over the head in 10 minutes. The characters have to be introduced, the conflict has to arise almost instantly, characters have to be developed, a story must be told, and the audience has to care, all in mere minutes. This year the Fusion is fortunate to have five of the winning playwrights attending at some point during the production run.
I enjoyed all seven. Timmy Perlmutter Goes Flying by Paul Lewis (director Robert Benedetti) and A Disappearing by Mark Wyss (dir. Aaron Worley) are both very funny. The Starfire Dance by Deborah Yarchun (dir. Paul Ford) reveals a charming romance brought back alive after many decades. The Secret Keeper by David Meyers (dir. Danny Kovacs) and Battling the Ghost of Max Schmeling by Thomas M. Atkinson (dir. Jacqueline Reid) explore the devastating long-term effects of violence. The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies by Kathleen Cahill (dir. Laurie Thomas) mixes physics theory with relationship problems in a goofy take on Albert Einstein and Mileva Mari, a fellow student who became his first wife.
The competition offers a best-of-show Jury Prize. The honor this year went to Anna Fox for Ginny (dir. Jen Grigg). The play is wonderfully strong for a mere 10 minute performance. The drama tells the story of Ginny and her father coping with the loss of Ginny's mom. They both get distracted by a TV cooking show host. After swirling in isolation and withdrawal, the two finally break through their grief and reconnect. Fox attended the opening night performance and answered audience questions after the play.
Kudos to all seven directors, many of whom are also actors in plays they didn't direct. The sets are minimal but effective. The show is a treat all the way through.
The Seven is produced by the Fusion Theatre Company. The seven-plays run at the Cell Theatre, 700 1st St. NW, Thursdays through Sundays, ending on June 15. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00 pm. There is a Saturday afternoon performance at 2:00 pm, and a Sunday performance at 6:00 pm. The Sunday, June 15 performance is $10 or pay what you want. For all other performances, adults are $40. Seniors and students are $35. For reservations, visit http://www.fusionabq.org.