Fifth Annual North Park Playwright Festival – North Park Vaudeville

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Play festivals abound in San Diego. Theatre abounds in San Diego. One local theatre critic told me she had gone to over 200 performances last year. I burned out at just over 100. Another critic, who comments on a variety of entertainments, must see close to 250 or 300 events each year. What a city! San Diego probably offers more live entertainment options than any other West Coast city, certainly on a per capita basis.

North Park Playwright Festival is the only venue, that I’m familiar with that is open to new playwrights, new directors, and new actors. A few of us old timers do bring in seasoned writers and actors. It is North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe’s proprietors Jeff and Summer’s mission to offer a venue for tyros.

Each year they sponsor four weeks of new plays. This year they will have platformed 28 plays from as far away as Australia. Here’s a quick look at last week’s offering:

Laid

Written by Matthew Bailey of Clover, South Carolina and directed by Terry John featured Roger Gobin and Chaz Close as Marty and John. It’s one hour before the end of time. John just wants one more chance to see the girl of his dreams. Marty runs delaying tactics, finally admitting to his love for John. Embarrassing but . . . .

Cut

Written by Bonita playwright Jeanne Becijos with Jeff Bushnell directing. Brian Burke plays a film actor with an overly long speech, Cari Kenny is the screenwriter, and Terie Trenchard is the most obnoxious film director I’ve ever seen. A fun bit for this old film guy.

The Cliff Thing

Written by Christopher Buckey of Montvale, N.J with Philomena Schubert at the helm. Roger Gobin returns with Jonathan Sturch and Mark Anthony. An amusing, but sick little piece about death and the joys of freaking people out at a cemetery.

The Christmas Tree

Written by San Diegan Michael Hemmingson, under the direction of Paola Hornbuckle, The Christmas Tree is about a living Christmas tree. Philomena Schubert puts on her acting hat, playing with young Madeline Hornbuckle (yes, nepotism, and she’s good), and Folanyah and Anya Singleton (as the tree). A touching story a bit overwritten.

Scrambled

Written by Brett Hursey of Farmville, VA and directed by Jeff Bushnell, Scrambled has an interesting story. The piece was to be a staged reading with people that got the scripts at the last minute. Roger Gobin (Max), in his third piece of the evening, and Cindy Lewis (Chloe) were on stage with Summer Golden backstage as an irate neighbor.

Chloe, reading a cookbook, is frying eggs while Max, reading a magazine, is patiently waiting for breakfast. The scripts were well masked. Max had done a neighbor a favor by picking up a box of tampons for a neighbor. Chloe is going ballistic. Lewis and Gobin were sensational. Wow!

Jenny and Cosmic Honey Scene

Written by San Diegan Jenifer Whisper with Jack Naibandian directing this musical. The cast include the director plus Summer Golden, Tyana Cullen, Shardae Hayes, Lynda Bell, and Rosemarie Ballard. This was a very interesting piece, quite challenging, and well executed.

Darkness Cut

Written by Shannon Murdoch of Footscray, Australia. Darkness Cut was under Gilbert Songalia’s direction and starred Cindy Lewis and Robert Bottomley. This was an interesting piece of conflict. Both actors were convincing in their roles.

There you have it. Truly a mixed bag. The last week, Friday and Saturday, November 2nd and 3rd, with eight short plays will definitely be interesting. There will be some repeat performers. Gene Rathswohl returns with Debbie Britt-Hay in The Naked Man. Philomena Schubert directs Beat the Champ. Kelly Lapczynski will be directing John Fojtik’s The Last Supper with Les Payne and Orrick returning to do acting chores. Paola Hornbuckle trades her directing hat for playwright honors. And the list goes on. I looks like a fun-filled weekend.

The North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe is at 2031 El Cajon Blvd, just east of Park. On one side is a massage parlor and on the other is a church. Perfect location for a small theater. For reservations call 619 220-8663. Go to a theatre this weekend.

Robert Hitchcox is a playwright, critic and fiction author, who reviews live theatre.