Cort Mao rehearses his role as an inexperienced hibachi chef for the comedy “Karate Cooking” — written by Ryan Macedo and directed by Taylor Dowley — as part of Olympic Theatre Arts’ upcoming New Works Showcase. (Emily Matthiessen/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Cort Mao rehearses his role as an inexperienced hibachi chef for the comedy “Karate Cooking” — written by Ryan Macedo and directed by Taylor Dowley — as part of Olympic Theatre Arts’ upcoming New Works Showcase. (Emily Matthiessen/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

All hands on deck for Olympic Theatre Arts’ New Works Showcase

Single weekend run set Thursday through Sunday

  • By Emily Matthiessen Olympic Peninsula News Group
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2022 1:30am
  • LifeClallam County

SEQUIM — Olympic Theatre Arts’ upcoming New Works Showcase, a production of eight short, never-before-seen plays from local playwrights, is an opportunity for everyone to get involved, director William Stone said.

The showcase runs Thursday through Sunday on the OTA stage, 414 N. Sequim Ave.

The plays will be presented in groups of four, with an intermission between and running a little less than two hours, OTA executive director David Herbelin said.

“All the directors, writers and performers are committed to creating a fun original evening unlike anything you’ll find in a standard play,” he said.

“The genres and themes range from deep thoughtful drama to fun slapstick comedy. Each script was carefully crafted and lovingly produced.”

Event times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students — and pay-what-you-will for the final dress rehearsal on Thursday. They are available online at olympictheatrearts.org or by calling the box office at 360-683-7326 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.

Stone said the opportunity is not only for playwrights but also for inexperienced directors, actors and crew to try new roles in a low-pressure environment.

Director Bailey Loveless said the sets are “basically black box theater; they’re very simple blocks made into different shapes to depict different places. We also use hand props.”

“If there is a common theme (among the plays), it would be human relationships … even in the silly ones, there’s an element of that,” Loveless said. “They’re all very focused on human connections and our responsibilities towards each other.”

About the plays

Experienced playwright Rebecca Redshaw’s “A Decision Forever,” starring Kevin Breckenridge, Julie Borden, Donovan Rynearson and Cort Mao, will be Loveless’ directorial debut.

Redshaw, who was involved with OTA before moving to Mount Vernon, wrote about the play: “Two strangers meet years after life-altering tragedies. It’s been more than two decades since the attack on the Twin Towers and more than 50 years since the attack in Munich. Martin has lived for years with a decision he made at the Olympic Village. He searches and finds Florence in the hopes that he can in some small way lessen the pain he knows she’s lived with since 9/11.”

Redshaw said it’s important for local playwrights to participate in local theatre.

“Theatres like OTA offer the perfect place to hone one’s craft,” she said.

Loveless, who has been involved in theater for 25 years, said, “I’ve lived here a year and a half and the theater community has been really welcoming. They do a really good job of making space for newcomers, both to the area and to the art itself.”

Stone had the opportunity to direct two plays, one by an experienced playwright and one by a novice.

Starring Jenny Brown and Ken Burland, the comedy “The Miracle Shirker” was written by first-time writer/actor Joel Hoffman.

It centers on the relationship between a movie producer and an actress as they try to market a script, asking the question, “What would happen if Helen Keller lived in today’s world and was offered surgery to restore her sight or hearing?”

“It’s funny and it’s heartfelt,” Stone said.

Hoffman said that he is grateful for the help Stone and Herbelin gave him with his script, and that after this experience he will “give it another shot. ”

Stone also directs professional playwright John P. Bray’s drama “A Johnnie Walker Blue Christmas,” starring Graham Knott, Mario Arruda and saxophone player Alicia Barevich.

“I’m a big fan of getting music involved,” Stone said. “A live sax brings a different dynamic to it.”

Bray said, “It’s loosely based on a few different autobiographical episodes, but mostly a lonely Christmas Eve when I walked from my little apartment to a liquor store and was invited to partake of some Johnnie Walker Blue (which is ridiculously expensive) by the proprietor.”

The romantic comedy “Last Train to Paris,” written and directed by John Painter, stars Matt Forrest, Nikki Mischke, Tara Dupont and William Stone.

“Minutes from hopping on a train that will take him to his dream job, a determined young man meets three strangers who may change his life forever … a lighthearted look at the twists and turns of fate and our ability to recognize the possibilities that life offers us,” Painter said.

“I was lucky enough to have my plays selected for both the first and second New Works Showcase contests,” he added.

Painter’s “Dance Your Dance” was the story of “five spirits who meet in a cemetery and realize their lives did have a positive impact on the living.”

Writer Marlene Shinn Lewis’ “Lost and Found,” adapted from her anthologized short story, is directed by Herbelin and Olivia Shea.

“‘Lost and Found’ is a fun romantic comedy based on the investigation of a lost cell phone and how its whereabouts tell a lot about the person who owns it. It stars long-time OTA actress Sarah Shea and Matt Forrest, Herbelin said.

Third-generation Sequim resident Sara K. Brabant, who said she hasn’t written anything since high school, rose to OTA’s challenge with “I Hate You Bob Ross,” starring Sarah Shea, Anthony Richards and Katie Singletary, brought to life by new director Taylor Dowley.

“The play features the main character in a sanitarium of sorts as they try to work through their many relatable emotional and mental issues,” Brabant said. “Everyone’s favourite painter appears and offers his patented brand of advice and encouragement. The idea for the play came from my own love of Bob Ross and the cathartic need to work through issues of my own. ”

Also directed by Dowley, “Karate Cooking,” written by Ryan Macedo, stars Jenny Brown, Tara Dupont, Mario Arruda, Cort Mao and Kevin Breckenridge.

“This play is a rollercoaster of a hibachi dinner for two patrons and a hibachi chef fresh out of culinary school,” Dowley said. “It will have you laughing and wondering why at the same time. ”

________

Emily Matthiessen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at emily.matthiessen@sequimgazette.com.

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