Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Apr 24th
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

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise