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Theater Notes: Start the new year at the theater

By Staff | Dec 21, 2012

Theater has been running wild during these busy pre-holiday nights. Talley’s Folly ran to justifiably satisfied audiences at the Florida Reparatory Theater. Closing was Dec. 16. I’m sad if you missed it.

The very short run of Dicken’s Women at the Herb Strauss Theater, starring the incomparable Miriam Margolyes, in a tour de force that left us dazzled, closed on Dec. 9. Again, I’m sorry if you missed it. But, be alerted that the next show at The Herb Strauss opens on Dec. 17 and runs through to New Years Eve. Plaid Tidings: Forever Plaid is sure to be a family crowd pleaser for the holidays. Watch for my colleague Marsha Wagner’s review.

I was lucky on Dec. 8 to spend a night at the adventurous Laboratory Theater in Fort Myers. Make sure you put that theater on your “to o” list this upcoming season. Annette Trossbach, the artistic director, has pulled together some of the best talent in the area, and she’s willing to take risks, do things that just aren’t being done elsewhere. For example, their staging of William Mastrosimone’s Extremities was a perfectly thrilling example.

And what I caught was part of the 24-hour playwright project. Yes, you read it right — 24 hours. On the evening of Dec. 7, four, carefully chosen playwrights were brought together to write and produce a play by curtain time the next night.

They were given a prompt and told what characters had to be in their play, plus a box of props to be part of their play. Then, they stayed up all night at the theater until they had a play, no longer than 15 minutes in length. It was delivered at noon, the next day, where they met the actors and actresses who had also been carefully chosen, as well. Well, imagine that?

Obviously, you have to be theater driven to even entertain such an entertainment. Anyhow, that whole afternoon, the plays were rehearsed, lines memorized, so that by the time the audience got there at 8 P.M. “The Play Was The Thing.”

Those of us in the audience, applauded each one enthusiastically, and judges were there to assign points in search of a prize winner. The plays were done a second time at a Sunday matinee. I don’t know which playwright won. Wouldn’t be surprised if any of the playwrights were awake yet to know, either.

In any case, it was a fun adventure for all concerned, and just an indication of the promises yet to come from The Laboratory Theater. You have to wait until Jan. 11 for their next major production, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This is one of my favorite Tennessee William’s plays. I am totally positive that they will do a superb job of putting it on at that quirky little theater in the Kiwanis Club Hall, corner of Woodford and 2nd in downtown Ft. Myers.

Finally, if you want to be a live participant in live theater! Be alerted to the Auditions coming up for the Community Theater Play Readings. Auditions are scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 5 and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 9. In Schein Hall, Big Arts, Dunlop Road. Check out the Big Arts website, www.BIGARTS.org, or contact the Community Theater Wizard, Shirley Jewell at 239-337-1099. I was in two readings last year, (one of them with just a yelling line off stage) and I’m going to audition again. Come, just for the fun. See you there.