Theater Unleashed with 25 Plays Per Hour at Hollywood Fringe
by Fanny Garcia
pLAywriting in the city
I’ve heard this crazy and ridiculous rumor that Los Angeles is not a theater town for quite a while now. I don’t know where it comes from and I don’t know who started but I keep hearing echoes of it everywhere. It’s a bit ridiculous when June comes around because the Hollywood Fringe Festival hosts over one hundred theater productions during a two-week period in the heart of Tinsel Town. One of these productions is Theater Unleashed’s 25 Plays Per Hour in which two directors tackle twenty-five, two minute plays written by twenty different writers.
Joshua Morrison and Jacob Smith co-directed and also chose the best twenty-five plays out of the more than one hundred that were submitted, some of which were written by the actors in the show.
Smith explains how the show began, “the whole concept started as kind of a joke. I had recently watched a horrible evening of one-acts. Six of them (each one twice as bad as the one before) in about an hour and a half. I made a comment to a colleague of mine that I could put up fifteen better plays in the same time. He said, “Make it twenty.” Not to be outdone, I told him I could do fifty in an hour. After I came back to reality, I settled on 25, and released the challenge to writer friends across the country. Since then I’ve just been trying to make it better and faster.”
The plays are reminiscent of some Seinfeld episodes, which were mostly about anything, everything and nothing but always laugh out loud hilarious. The funniest plays have solid foundations in theater of the absurd with their witty use of characters caught in hopeless situations and forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions or engaging in dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense. Notable mentions include In or Out by Joshua Morrison, Amnesia Jacob Smith and Not To Be Confused by Darren Mangler.
Laura Crook’s Mary and Jack: Part I, II and III is a fantastical ménage a trois between Jack the Ripper, Typhoid Mary and a prostitute that should be dead but isn’t. Actors Tracey Collins, Sean Fitzgerald and Leah Veril played the roles brilliantly.
The production also sneaks in some gut wrenching moments with Suicide Piece, a beautifully written work by Andy Scuderi about the consequences of bullying and intolerance from the perspective of the bully. White Satin. Clean Lines by Cesar Abella is a disturbing tale of a woman who goes to disturbing lengths to fit into her wedding dress.
Standouts in the cast are R. Benito Cardenas and Tracey Collins who transition from one character to the next seamlessly and Jenn Scuderi is a lovable dirty girl in Waiting for Preston by Joshua Morrison.
In one hour alone you can see twenty-five short plays that span from hilarious to poignant on a Los Angeles stage. Where does the rumor that L.A. is not a “theater town” come from? The co-director and creator of 25 Plays Per Hour, Jacob Smith weighs in on the question, “I hear all the time that L.A. isn’t a theatre town. I think there is a lot of amazing theatre happening all over the city. The only reason I agree with the sentiment is because so few of us can actually make any sort of decent wage doing it. We need to exhaust ourselves working two other jobs, while keeping our hearts in the full time job that is theatre. But the work itself is amazing, and Fringe Central at any night of the week is evidence that there is certainly some theatre in this town.”
The show is an hour long. Period. In fact, Smith says, “if we go over an hour, we buy a drink for everyone in the audience.”
Theater Unleashed has also partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank for 25 Plays Per Hour, patrons that bring canned or non-perishable goods to the box office can Name Their Ticket Price at the Door!
25 Plays Per Hour comes alive at Theater Asylum on Wed. June 20 at 8:30 pm, Fri. June 22 at 11:30 pm and Sat. June 23 at 2:30 pm. For more information visit the Hollywood Fringe Festival website at http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/
Need a sneak peak at this hilarious and fast paced show? Here’s a YouTube video: