It's one thing after another

'Sudden Theater' highlights versatility in 10-minute plays

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who, what, where, when ...

  The Kenai Performers practice their tableaus during a Sunday rehearsal for the production of "Sudden Theater" at the Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. The group will present several performances of their 10-minute plays beginning Friday. Photo by Jessica Cejnar

"Sudden Theater" will run Friday through Sunday and Oct. 5-7 at the Old Town Playhouse. Friday and Saturday performances will be at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for seniors and students and $12 for general admission. Advance tickets are available for purchase at Charlotte's in Kenai and River City Books in Soldotna.

For more information, call 252-7929.

"This is kind of a theatrical variety show, in that you're exposed to so many different things. Some are funny, some are dramatic, some are both, but nothing for very long. As soon as one thing is completed, then suddenly on to another."

That's the way Kenai Performer board member Marc Berezin describes the upcoming presentation of "Sudden Theater."

"Although we've done one acts before, usually, we had three 30- to 40-minute plays, and that was an evening. Here, we have eight or nine," said Berezin, a director in the company's evening of 10-minute plays.


The Kenai Performers practice their tableaus during a Sunday rehearsal for the production of "Sudden Theater" at the Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. The group will present several performances of their 10-minute plays beginning Friday.

Photo by Jessica Cejnar

Eight directors, four local playwrights and dozens of performers will showcase their talents in plays on a wide variety of topics. Sally Cassano has taken on two different characters an elementary teacher who makes a desperate career move in the play "Schooled," written and directed by Mike Druce, and a the mother of a teenage son who is moving into the territory of manhood in "Bloom," directed by Berezin. She also has written and directed a comedy of bureaucracy entitled "The Department of What?"

"The opportunity to just be schizophrenic. That's the draw for a night," Cassano said. "And it's hard. In a play that lasts a long time, you are into that one character. You devote everything you are to that one character. To make that switch to a 10-minute play, then into another 10-minute play, it's a challenge. And it's a little exhausting, but in a rewarding way."

Bob Maybrey, who plays Nat in "Death Knocks," is the videographer for "Sudden Theater" and many of the Kenai Performers' productions. Maybrey is a member of the Maybrey Brothers Band, the house band at the Rainbow Bar. Maybrey likes change in his music and in his theatrical life.

"I always like doing a variety of things. When I play music, I do a variety of things. I've always pretty much been an arranger, a director, that kind of stuff in music. That entails trying to do all the different aspects, so for me, taking on new challenges is just a fun thing," he said.

Maybrey plays Nat opposite Berezin's "Death" in Woody Allen's "Death Knocks." Berezin, who is a relatively new director, agrees with Cassano and Maybrey about the benefit of experiencing multiple aspects of theater craft.

"I'm used to being on the acting side of Kenai Performers, which is what I've enjoyed most. Last year I just tried my hand at directing. I figured it was a 10-minute play. If I was terrible at it, I would only be terrible at it for 10 minutes. Fortunately, I had a great cast, and it turned out well, so I decided to try it again and try something a bit more dramatic, as opposed to comedic. I can't resist the opportunity to perform in a play, too, so I'm doing both," Berezin said.

Sudden Theater, in its second annual run, affords a departure from Kenai Performers' full-length works. It also serves a more practical function, allowing the company to further develop a variety of skills in Kenai theatre artists.

"Aside from the fact that we just discovered this genre last year, we've found that it's an excellent way to bring on new directors. That's always our struggle, is finding people to direct shows. This way, people are less intimidated to take on a 10-minute play and try their hand at it, than to take on anything longer and it's working," Berezin said.

"It gives a lot more people a chance to shine for a short period of time, instead of when we do one of the big shows where a few people get a lot of the focus. You actually have a lot of people behind the scenes and elsewhere on stage, that are doing things, but don't really get to be out there showing their whole talents," Maybrey added.

The short plays in "Sudden Theater" include drama and comedy, themes of war and the challenge of technology and are set everywhere from a bar to an attic to the DMV. The students from the Sidecar improvisation workshop held in summer will contribute to the evening, as well.

Some of the pieces are PG-13, with more mature themes, which is a contrast to the last couple of presentations offered as a result of the children's theater summer program at the Playhouse.

"After a whole summer of things that have pretty much catered to our younger folk, this is kind of a nice little switch of gears. We had rated G all summer, now the kids are back in school, this is a nice slide into the adult world," Cassano said. "It shows versatility."

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