B y J a n a R i v e r a
COMEDY, TRAGEDY, DRAMA--take your pick or see them all January 4 through 7 at the Old Pueblo Playwrights New Play Festival featuring Southern Arizona's hottest playwrights.
Eleven new plays selected from more than 25 submissions will be given staged readings in a work-in-progress format, allowing audience members to participate in discussions with the playwrights after the performance.
Anna Maria's Journal, a full-length play by Julieta Gonzalez, opens the festival Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with a journey into Tucson's past through a present-day couple hoping to restore an old Armory Park home to its Victorian splendor. But their plans may be diverted by the present inhabitant of the home--the ghost of an abandoned wife still awaiting the return of a husband who walked out one day around the turn of the century.
Gonzalez, a Tucson native, specializes in plays with a historical perspective of Tucson and its people. Anna Maria's Journal has received several community readings and is in the final stage of completion.
Friday night offers audiences an opportunity to view the work of four different playwrights with an evening of three mini-plays and a one-act. The plays deal with such diverse topics as a competition concerning the offspring of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in Slainte by Patti Cassidy, to a couple of old folks remembering the old days in Rich Amada's The Critics. The By-Stander, by Earl Wettstein, questions a by-stander's responsibility to get involved with someone else's violence, and Sybil Duus Needham's A Time to Mourn looks at a family's ambivalence over the death of an alcoholic relative.
If you're old enough to remember the McCarthy era, you won't want to miss Saturday night's reading of Robert Cenedella's compelling full-length play, For Want of Enemies. It takes place in the 1950s, when motion picture companies and radio and television broadcasters placed many talented workers accused of pro-Communist sympathies on a blacklist that denied them employment for a number of years and ruined a few careers.
A Sunday afternoon matinee will offer another divergent group of four mini-plays featuring work from three playwrights. Two Marc Goldfeder plays will be read: A Simple Proposition, in which the devil (disguised as two hookers) offers a lonely man the night of his life in exchange for his soul; and The Best Man, in which a newly married man finds it difficult to tell his wife that he is in love with the best man at their wedding. In Gary E. Sabbag's The Side Show, a glitzy, greedy agent pushes his reluctant client into performing, and Chris Stern looks at that first awkward but critical "hello" moment in The Art of Hello.
Road Hazards, by Pat Mencke, wraps up the festival Sunday night with a journey through life's absurdities, disappointments and perils.
All performances will be at the Center for the Performing Arts, 408 S. Sixth Ave. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 per performance at the door, $3 for students, or $20 for the entire 11-play festival.
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