So here I am, back to my real life, and I says to myself – “Self, you gotta process this experience. If not for yourself, Self, then for those who was there and those who weren’t.” And I said to myself, ”Or I just gotta clarify and pontificate.” Self interrupted, “You did that already; you were an adjudicator.” “Don’t say it like that, like I was a mean, lowly, heart-breakin’ rat.” “Well, then don’t adjudicate next time.” And then I took a swing at myself, and Self dodged and countered with a jab to the place that makes me exhale really quickly, and so here I’m at, still trying to figure out what to say about Kaleidoscope ’11 at the Spokane Civic Theatre while I catch my breath.
The WSCTA awards. Also known as the “member awards”, those are the distinctions bestowed from the WSCTA members unto the festival participants. The adjudicators don’t give them and they are my favorite thing about the festival. The Ralph Eaton New Horizons Award wasn’t given this time – this award is given to a first-time participant at Kaleidoscope that most exemplifies the values of high quality community theater. The “Magic Moment” is a vote for that one special thing that festival-goers most loved about the plays this weekend. This year, it went to the character Olive Ostrovsky singing “The I Love You Song” from The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The Betty Wills Washington Treasure Award goes to the theatre that most exemplifies . . . oh, cut to the chase, it’s the member’s choice for best show. The plaque stays at the theatre awarded until the next Kaleidoscope sends it along to the next festival. This year, it went to the Bremerton Community Theater’s production of All My Sons.
These are my favorite awards cuz they almost always come from the heart of the festival and rarely match the adjudicated awards. Which makes them feel good.
Read more about them. Four plays of four differing styles, modes, and genres. So rather than detail what was good about ‘em (you either went or you didn’t – next time GO!), here’s where you can follow up on your favorites.
Dan Zolidis wrote !Artistic Inspiration, a wacky farce intended for high school-aged performers. It’s a specialty of Zolidis who has around 50 other plays like it available through Playscripts.com. (In fact, it’s a specialty of Playscripts.com, the wacky high-school farce. Through direct marketing and making samples of scripts readable on-line, high school students don’t have to go through teacher to find what plays they like.) If you liked this play, you might try Zolidis’ adaptation of Bobby Wilson Can Eat His Own Face; Stephen Gregg’s S.P.A.R (Dramatic Publishing); and Christopher Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare (Dramatists Play Service).
Doug Wright wrote Wildwood Park, a daring psychological chiller. Included as part of a creepy evening of one-acts titled Unwrap Your Candy (all Wright’s plays are at Dramatists), which made my must-order pile. Doug Wright’s a Pulitzer Prize winner (for I Am My Own Wife) who focuses on the psychological need, maybe even drive, for transgressive self-delusion. His most well-known work is arguably Quills (stage play made into a feature film with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine) about the power struggle between an asylum “warden” and his most outrageous and famous patient, the Marquis de Sade. How exactly can you punish a man who enjoys punishment? My personal favorite is The Stonewater Rapture, a heart-breaking two-hander about high school love gone wrong. David Harrower’s Blackbird (Dramatists) is recent full-length play of macabre re-connections, not dissimiliar to Wildwood Park. (Thanks for the suggestion, Sandy.)
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was written by Rachel Sheinkin (sp?), who I don’t know much about, with music and lyrics by William Finn. Super mondo musical theater geeks would be very familiar with Finn’s “Marvin” trilogy, three small musicals that focus on the foibles of, well, Marvin, a man who leapt out of the closet and struggles to be a good father, ex-husband, and lover. The short sung-through musicals (so more like operettas) include In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland. (MTI.) Fans of Putnam would like Marvin.
All My Sons by some guy. Some guy who wrote Death of A Salesman, The Crucible, A View From the Bridge, and Resurrection Blues. Arthur Miller’s that guy, and three of those titles are regular combatants in the Greatest American Play arguments. Miller’s tragedies of the common man are arguably his stronger works, and my heart’s fondest of Sons (and Bremerton showed great plays are their own best argument for doing them). That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy re-reading or seeing Salesman, Crucible, and Bridge. (Dramatists AND Samuel French AND lotsa used copies out there – check your used bookstores.) And if Miller gets to you too, try some Lillian Hellman and Robert E. Sherwood.
Join us. The board of the WSCTA could use a few more bodies, especially a treasurer. And it’d be nice if a Westside theatre stepped up to host Kaleidoscope ’13. (We’re looking at you, Bremerton and Tacoma . . .). But mainly, if you’re reading this, we need you. Put up a show, bring in one of us for a workshop or presentation, let us know what you’re doing. I’ll dribble out some more festival-related discoveries (what? You thought I’d blow it all in one blogpost? ) and news as we go along, but the main virtue of this medium is the two-way communication. Tell me what you wanna know.
Thanks to ACT Richland, Richland Players, Spokane Civic and Bremerton Community Theatre for the above plays and the great weekend. And thanks to Civic’s wonderful hosting – and rock the folks in Rochester, Bee’s! (Thanks for the Bee tiara, too. All my wife is jealous.)