There’s one especially good thing about a short play, aside from the fact that it’s, you know, short—so if you’re watching one and it turns out to be bad, you don’t have to wait so long for the torture to end. No, the best thing about a short play is that it gives a beginning playwright a chance to finish something without freaking out so much about how long it takes to write a full-length play. And then, of course, for experienced writers, it gives them a chance to play around and give life to small, good ideas that would be stretched thin by, or crushed under the weight of, a fully developed narrative.
Everyone once in a while, lightning strikes, and you get both at the same time: a well-developed little gem of a story created by a playwright who is still developing her skills as a writer (and maybe just happens to be really good). That, of course, is the hope we have when we attend a showcase of short one-act plays.
We know that most of them will likely be a little rough, a little weak, a little amateur. But we also know that plenty of great playwrights (David Ives, David Lindsay-Abaire, David Mamet, and even people whose first names aren’t David, like, for instance, Anton Chekhov).
Which brings us to ‘From Russia With Love,’ an evening of short plays by Anton Chekhov, all dealing with the rocky emotional ride that is love. Timed to run until Valentine’s Day, the show—which opens Friday, January 29 in the Studio Theater at 6th Street Playhouse—features three of the great Russian writer’s funniest, most romantic one-acts, each helmed by a different director, interspersed with readings of actual love letters (very complicated love letters) between Chekhov and his wife Olga.
The shorts include the legendarily farcical ‘The Marriage Proposal,’ in which a couple—she a somewhat haughty dog-lover and he a hypochondriac with a tendency to faint—
demonstrate their suitability by breaking out into argument before, during and after he presents one of literature’s most hilarious and uncomfortable proposals of marriage ever.
Click HERE for information on ‘From Russia With Love’ and how to get tickets.
So much for the known quantities.
Short plays are the most fun when they carry the whiff of the unknown.
In Napa, also starting January 29, Lucky Penny Productions presents its own festival of one-act short plays. Titled ‘In Love with the 8×10,’ the show is what it sounds like (sort of)—eight ten-minute plays about Love, all chosen by a “blind” reading committee. Lucky Penny received 108 submissions from all across the U.S.A., and these eight fast, funny, sweet, sexy, sad and romantic tales are the best of the bunch.
Click HERE for information on the 8×10 Short Play Festival, running through Feb. 14 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa.