Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Terrific Tens

ane final18th annual 8 Tens @ Eight one of the best ever

The philosophy behind Santa Cruz Actors' Theatre's annual short play festival, 8 Tens @ Eight, has always been what I call the Bus Theory: if one play doesn't get you where you want to go, there'll be another one along in 10 minutes. What's great about this year's festival is the quality of the plays overall is so high. Not one of this year's eight 10-minute plays ever runs completely out of gas; all are well-written, well-acted, and cleverly staged, and most have a story arc that delivers the viewer to a valid destination.


Take Elyce Melmon's “For Art's Sake,” directed by Helene Simkin Jara. A gentle satire on art criticism, it imagines a museum encounter between a young techno-geek (Nat Robinson), whose idea of having a life is his 572 Facebook friends, and the young woman (Danielle Crook, who also has a lovely singing voice) in Bouguereau's symbolic painting, "The Broken Pitcher" (beautifully recreated onstage); she steps out of her frame to complain that that rascal David busted her pitcher with his slingshot and her chastity has been impugned ever since.

Spirited acting highlights include Zazu Lein's “Prison Coach,” directed by Sarah Albertson, in which a no-nonsense granny (Ali Eppy) and a tough ex-con (Scott Kravitz) conspire to get her feckless grandson to face the consequences of his white-collar crime. Ditto the cast of Susan Forrest and Karen Schamberg's humorous “Be It Ever So Humble,” directed by Wilma Marcus Chandler, where a trio of agoraphobic sisters speak entirely in clichés. Declan Brennan and Robinson are terrific as "idiot savant" twins with a plan in Brian Spencer's focused staging of William Baer's “Morons.” And director Gail Borkowski brings cogent simplicity to her staging of Marlene Miller's domestic drama, “Just Say It” (nicely played by MarNae Taylor and Miguel Reyna).

This year's Double-Threat award goes to Ian McRae. He's very funny as Phineas P. Japester, a drill instructor in Dan Borengasser's “Clown Camp,” directed with pizzazz by Marcus Cato; in his red nose, fright wig, and fatigues, Japester trains a platoon of raw recruits in the art of being a bozo. ("No irony!" he warns them. "No satire! No bons mots!")

McRae also scores as the author of “Dudes Like Us,” a funny, wistful, wholly engaging meditation on surfing, aging, life, and even language as a couple of veteran surf buddies (the wonderful Steven Capasso and Rick Kuhn) try out paddleboards. Bill Peters' inventive staging places the actors on pedestals, painted to suggest boards, on an empty stage. It works beautifully (right down to the water they occasionally splash over their heads).

Finally, Seth Freeman's “Imperfectly Frank” serves up delicious acting from Karin Babbitt and David Guzman as a pair of Old World Indian parents in San Francisco, thrilled that gay marriage laws have expanded the opportunities for arranged matches, and eager to marry off their son, Frank (Adrian Torres) to a rich boy—even though Frank is not actually gay. ("But darling, you will learn!" trills his mom.) Torres also directs this crowd-pleasing closer to a bountiful festival.  


The 8 Tens @ Eight Festival plays through Jan. 27 at Center Stage Theater, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/303245.


The Best Of The Rest

8 Tens runners-up get their own four-day fest

Where do the new plays featured in Santa Cruz Actors' Theatre's annual 8 Tens @ Eight Festival come from? According to Artistic Director Wilma Marcus Chandler, entries come from all over California and from as far away as London, Australia and Korea, in response to an open call for 10-minute plays posted in Poet's and Writer's Magazine, American Theater Magazine, and other national publications. This year's festival plays were culled from some 130 submissions.

A panel of seven local readers, well-versed in the Santa Cruz theater scene, select 16 finalists in a blind judging process. Working from a list of about 50 local directors that she uses in rotation, Chandler selects eight festival directors and asks each one to pick the play he or she wants to direct. These are the ones produced in the 8 Tens festival.ane clowns

But what happens to the runners-up? The remaining eight plays are honored as well, in the four-day Best Of The Rest mini-festival. The plays are cast and staged just like for 8 Tens, except that the actors hold and read from their scripts. This year's Best Of The Rest Festival runs for four performances only, Jan. 31 through Feb. 3.

Actor and director Scott Kravitz, who is also Artistic Director of the Best Of The Rest Festival, says the relationship between the two programs is the "theatrical equivalent to the White Album debate. If the Beatles' White Album was pared down to be one record instead of two, which songs would you leave off? The Best Of The Rest is basically like the outtakes bootleg."

Two plays from Santa Cruz ("Miss Wesson Oil" by Ariana Moxie, and "Maybe Later" by Paula Alder), five from the Bay Area, and one from Connecticut are featured in the festival. Let the revels continue!  


The Best of the Rest Festival plays Jan. 31-Feb. 3 at Center Stage Theatre, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/312477.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Critical Mask

Comics remain both relevant and marginalized  

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Ella’s at the Airport

Tiffany Ella King on her new fine dining restaurant in Watsonville

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines