Quickies in the Theater
Buffalo Quickies. Buffalo Quickies presents 6 original one-act plays in a 90 minute time frame presenting originality and talent alike.
The stage lights illuminate two middle-age women goofily making prank phone calls to unsuspecting victims. One woman poses as an IRS agent while her partner laughs at her witty insults. After they hang up the phone, it rings and an anonymous voice gives them startling information.
"You are in a play, and we're all watching you," it said.
A Courtesy Call, written by Jay C. Rehakkicked off the Buffalo Quickies festival of one-act plays on Thursday night. The play represented the beginning of Alleyway Theatre's 21stannual showcasing of "quickies." The festival, staying true to its name, offered six one-act plays compressed into 90 minutes – two of which are world premieres.
Over the past two decades, Alleyway Theatre has run approximately 200 one-act plays with scripts coming from all over the world. Each year the theater holds the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition in order to find these scripts.
The theater's artistic director, Joyce Stilson, has read thousands of playwrights in her search for the best material and in this process she's come across some fantastic scripts, some of which she truly adores.
"The last play of the night is one of my all-time favorite one-acts," Stilson said. "It has some of the best lines – lines I would like on a T-shirt. We first showed it in 1999 and we realized we had to bring it back this year."
The intimacy of the venue allowed the audience to get a closer look of all the nuances of the actors' performances.
A simple, but funny act, was Donna Hoke's Black and White. In this play, an old woman sits in her chair and reads the newspaper while sudoku and crossword puzzles have a cryptic argument over who is the more challenging pastime. The creativity at work in this script is a great example of the intellectual material of the evening.
Another gem was the second act of the evening and the winner of the one-act contest. Anson Mount's Love Liza? contained some of the funniest dialogue of the evening.
The scene, led by the incredibly witty actor Carlton Franklin, takes place in a U.S. immigration office and is centered on the diatribe of Stan, a gay illegal immigrant. One comedic disaster after another arises as Stan continuously puts himself in a deeper hole.
Franklin, a returning Quickies actor, was brilliant in his interpretation of Stan, flawlessly bringing to life a guiltily, exuberant madman.
Although the one-acts are short in duration, the idea of acting in five plays straight is incredible. Franklin seemed to do this with ease and gave equal attention to each of his characters. Even though he succeeded there seemed to be no question in his mind that the Quickies were far more challenging than the longer plays he had acted in.
"The Quickies are harder because you have to go from one act to another," Franklin said. "In a full-length play the character has an arch from the beginning to the end, but with the Quickies each play has an arch, which makes it a lot more challenging."
The play with the best writing was ironically enough a play about bad writing. Within Christopher Morse's Exterior. A Train Station. Night., two characters in a screenplay discuss the playwright's generic, unimaginative writing that governs their very existence. When one of the characters ridicules the omnipotent, dictatorial author, his role is changed from the protagonist to a laughable, sad drunk who gets run over by a train. The scene is Shakespearean in its humorous banter.
There are some true theatrical gems to be found at the Buffalo Quickies, and audiences can see them until March 17.
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