Sunday, July 27, 2014

Playwrights Fest: A Challenge to the Audience

Scene from "Hoist" by Erin Lane.
Hollins' Playwrights Festival 2014 finishes its 10-play (all FREE) today at Mill Mountain Theatre's Waldron stage with plays (from this moment) at 2, 4 and 8 p.m. Over the past day and a half, excellent crowds have attended the new plays that are actually in development.

This is an exercise that helps writers, directors and actors in the development of these new works, some of which show a great deal of promise.

One of the aspects I like about live theater is that it challenges even when it offends. Yesterday's "Hoist" was a good case in point for me. This is a work with a good bit of potential by a young woman (Erin Lane) of considerable talent. Still, I disliked the play with an intensity that left me cold and empty, even though it was presented with fine acting and direction. This was the story of a woman's experience following a horrible rape and how she was/wasn't facing the future.

It was one of the angriest works I've seen in a long time and it left nothing to redemption. Even the play's only moderately likeable character, a teen-aged barkeep, was sucked into the general hopelessness and dispair by the last few lines. I think the liberal use of vulgarity (especially "fuck") distracted because I wanted a playwright who would employ the richness of the language to tell her story, not fall back on cheap shock language.

Still, that's one person's take. The remainder of those in attendence seemed to appreciate the work and commented briskly about its impact. I like that. We can see the same work and see it differently and each of us can appreciate it or dislike it on our levels, using our own values.

So go to one or more of the final three performances. I think you will be rewarded.

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