WEEKEND: Playwrights’ Festival gives peek into many shades of human life

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A homeless woman looks back on her youth and on the decisions that shaped her life. As she speaks to us, a scene from the past unfolds behind her.

We see plenty: the woman’s past and present — both created by playwright Angela Amos.

The play is “Solvo Mae Mae,” Amos’ prize-winning story come to life in Key City Public Theatre’s 17th annual Playwrights’ Festival. The 10-minute piece is only one of the more than a dozen tales being told in a springtime pageant of new drama, comedy, monologue and history.

Amos is loving the experience. She’s acted in and directed plays at Key City, but her “Solvo Mae Mae” marks the first time she’s been the creator of that world on stage. A native of Port Angeles who grew up in Sequim, Amos went off to college in Seattle and then traveled the world. She chose to return home to work in theater.

“I feel it’s really important,” she said, “to speak the story of the Northwest.”

“Solvo,” starring Kristin Wolfram, Katie Kowalski and Brandon Chappell, is part of the festival’s One-Act Productions on stage tonight, Saturday and Sunday as well as March 22-24.

The one-acts include four more by Jefferson County playwrights: Judith Glass-Collins’ “iChat,” a conversation between women on opposite coasts and political sides; Susan Solley’s “Two Angels Walk into a Bar,” about a woman choosing between a white-winged gentleman and a darker figure; Deborah Wiese’s “Assault with a Not So Deadly Weapon” about a man visiting his ex-wife in the hospital; and D.D. Wigley’s “Diptych: What You Wish For.”

“Diptych,” Wigley said, is “a very short play in two parts about fate, forces and free will.”

It’s also an experiment. Part One is about strange things that happen to a man who can’t sleep on the night of a full moon, and Part Two follows a woman who finds a holy grail in a bit of beach glass.

Well-known local actors appear and reappear in the one-acts, giving the viewer a feeling of connection. The plays also show the performers’ versatility, as they portray people in bars, bedrooms and hospital rooms.

And while this is a celebration of homegrown plays and home-town actors, Key City Public Theatre artistic director Denise Winter also wants the festival to explore works from farther afield.

Here’s the lineup of festival events she and her crew have assembled; all will take place at the Key City Playhouse, 419 Washington St., unless otherwise noted.

■ This year’s guest playwright, Jack Heifner of New York City, will teach two seminars: a free workshop this Saturday and an intensive that costs $75 to $85 on Sunday. Both start at 10 a.m., and reservations may be made at 360-379-0195.

Heifner also has brought “Hate Mail,” his new comedy, to be read by Scott and Heather Dudley Nollette, two Port Townsend actors, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21.

■ Eight women playwrights, from Mexico, India, Romania and other lands are showcased in “Here, There and Everywhere,” an evening of short monologues. Mara Lathrop of Port Townsend directs this show starring Heather Dudley Nollette, Emily Huntingford and Erin Lamb; the last of its three performances is at 7 p.m. this Tuesday, March 19.

■ A cast of teenagers will tell another freshly written story in “Somewhere Is Better than Nowhere,” the Key City TeenLab production slated for 5:30 p.m. next Friday, March 22. Director Amy Souza and her ensemble of young actors will present “Somewhere” that evening, along with a bonus: a performance of the Theatre Adventure Club’s play, “Ohmygods!”

■ The festival offers two plays-in-progress created by veteran actors and playwrights. “Their Father’s House,” David Natale’s drama based on his grandfather’s stories of the coal mining life in Cleveland, will arrive on stage at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and “Miss Lillian,” with Carol Swarbrick Dries as President Jimmy Carter’s mother Lillian, has performances at 7 p.m. this Sunday and Wednesday and finally at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23.

■ “Courageous Acts,” the culmination of a five-week theater workshop for adults, has one performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 21.

Zhaleh Almaee of Port Townsend’s Mandala Center for Change directed this program in which the participants share their personal stories; the venue is the Pope Marine Building at 603 Water St.

Tickets are free for “Courageous Acts” and the TeenLab showcase; admission is $10 for the plays-in-progress and $15 for the One-Act Productions.

Festival passes, which afford discounts for patrons attending multiple shows, are also an option. A performance calendar and much more information awaits at www.KeyCityPublicTheatre.org, while the Key City Playhouse box office is at 360-385-KCPT (5278).

Last modified: March 14. 2013 6:22PM
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