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New one-act plays premiere Friday

June 21, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The cast and director for "A Thirties Affair" at the seventh annual New Voice Play Festival playfully disagreed about whether the play is a comedy, a dramedy or is more like a sitcom, but what isn't disputed is its first-place finish at the festival.

"It is short, to the point and very well-written, very cute," director Alan Hupke said.

In "A Thirties Affair," a busybody tries to set up her friend with her husband's friend, much to everyone else's chagrin. The play is one of three staged performances, in addition to a staged reading, of four one-act plays this weekend at the Old Opera House. All four plays are making their world premiere Friday night.

Each play lasts less than a half-hour, which can pose a challenge for a playwright, said Steven Brewer, Old Opera House manager and artistic director.

"They have to get to the point quickly," Brewer said.

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And for the audience, having four short plays gives them some variety.

"If they don't like the one they're watching, just hold on a minute and another one's coming," Brewer said.

Carl L. Williams, author of "A Thirties Affair," started writing novels but said he switched to plays because he found he had a greater knack for dialogue than narrative prose.

Williams, 57, of Houston, beat out 39 other entrants from across the country to win first place in the festival. He tied for third place last year with a comedy/drama, "What Are Words Worth to a Long Fellow?"

During a recent phone interview, Williams said he didn't base "A Thirties Affair" on his own experiences.

"I am single, but no, it hasn't happened to me, not recently anyway," he said of married people setting up their single friends.

And he considers the play a comedy.

Williams regrets he won't be able to make it to the festival as he will be attending a performance in Midland, Texas, of a new full-length play he wrote.

He has published 20 plays so far but hasn't made it a full-time occupation yet.

"Very few people make a living as a playwright," said Williams, who is director of the social service department for The Salvation Army in Houston.




Four plays on the bill



"A Thirties Affair" was written by Carl L. Williams of Houston and is directed by Alan Hupke. The cast includes Marianne Tomasic as Pauline, Amy Hebb plays Carla, Charles Boyce as Henry, Will Heyser as Jason.




"ISO," which won second place, is about a couple meeting on a blind date. Two more actors play the couple's alter egos, expressing their inner thoughts and feelings throughout the awkward first meeting. "ISO" was written by James H. Wise of Gambrills, Md., and is directed by Winky Francis. Cast includes Sandra DeRocha, Christine Brewer, Chad Everett Mullenix, Charles Boyce, Dan Rice and Jerry Cayford.




"Fall Guys," which tied for third place, is a historical comedy centering around a telephone conversation between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and President John F. Kennedy. The dialogue is maintained by their respective interpreters as the two leaders do not speak. "Fall Guys" was written by J.C. Svec of Clark, N.J., and is directed by Jim Whipple. The cast for the staged reading includes Meera Arumuganathan, Teri Campbell, Ty Unglebower and Will Heyser.




"The Good Deed," which tied for third place, is set in a bar next to a funeral home. As people come into the bar following a funeral, a widower talks to them about his recently deceased wife. Through these detailed, uplifting stories, the widower provides some comfort to the bereaved and to his own soul. "The Good Deed" was written by Jim Gordon of East Norwalk, Conn., and is directed by Steven Brewer. The cast includes Chad Everett Mullenix, Bill Francis, Meera Arumuganathan and Dan Rice.




If you go...



WHAT: Seventh annual New Voice Play Festival

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 24

WHERE: Old Opera House, 204 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

COST: $12; $8 for children and students. Admission price covers all four performances that day.

DIRECTIONS: Take alternate U.S. 40 southeast through Boonsboro. Turn right on Md. 67. Merge onto U.S. 340 west toward Charles Town. Just past the Jefferson County Courthouse turn right onto North George Street and go one block. The playhouse will be in the beginning of the second block on the left. There is a city parking lot behind the theater, off Liberty Street.

MORE: For more information, call 888-900-SHOW or go to www.oldoperahouse.org.

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