New voices in the spotlight

Four new one-act plays staged this weekend

Four new one-act plays staged this weekend

June 19, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - D.C. "Carol" Gallant's first play, "Breathing Hard," vents her frustration with people who dismiss her era as a time of frivolous hippies.

"I don't want to be pedantic, I don't want to be moralistic, but by giving voice to these issues, someone watching might not feel as alone," said Gallant, a fiction writer from Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

"Breathing Hard" premieres Friday at the New Voice Play Festival, a one-act play festival at Old Opera House. The festival opens Friday and will run through Sunday, June 22.

New Voice debuts original, never-before-seen plays. Of the four plays showing, "Breathing Hard" is the only one written by a local playwright.


In the play, Gallant uses a single character, Alice, to humorously show what it's like to be a woman who came of age in the 1960s.

Alice's mindset is still in flower-power mode. The humor comes from her encounters with 21st-century techno-lust, social apathy and a feeling that she is too young to feel out of touch with the rest of the world.

As a fiction writer, a retired press secretary on Capitol Hill, and a self-described "woman of a certain age," Gallant said she had no trouble writing the script. Her challenge was getting her words from paper to stage.

"Turns out, I had a very wordy play," Gallant said.

Sandra M. DeRocha, who plays Alice, and Steve Glendenning, who plays The Man, are the only actors cast in "Breathing Hard," and they are tasked with boiling down Gallant's dense script.

DeRocha carries most of the burden, as she must convincingly deliver lines that seem incongruous on paper - Alice's mind tends to wander - Gallant said.

Glendenning has far fewer lines, which means he has to rely on body language and physical presence to add dimension to The Man.

In writing the play, Gallant said she intentionally kept it light. Audiences won't leave the theater thinking, "the moral of this story is 'blank,'" Gallant said.

But she said the play presents, at minimum, one lingering theme.

"The '60s were dismissed as frivolity and hippies," Gallant said. "But what could be taken from then is that we can make a difference."

About New Voice Play Festival

New Voice Play Festival showcases unpublished, unperformed one-act plays that are between 10 minutes and 40 minutes long. A panel of judges chose the following four plays for this year's festival:

"The Chamberpot," by Joe Lauinger, directed by Will Heyser

A woman gets more than her $37 worth when she buys a valentine for her new boyfriend. Winner of the top prize, $250 Golden Curtain Award.

"Buried at Sea," by Joe Musso, directed by Steven Brewer

A light-hearted look at the inevitability of death and what will become of our remains after we pass on. Winner of the second-place prize, $100 Silver Stage Award.

"Breathing Hard," by D.C. "Carol" Gallant, who is also directing

A woman of the 1960s era is constantly surprised by the 21st century and is comically coping as best she can in a world of techno-lust, dying polar bears and pollution. One of the $50 Spotlight Award winners.

"Fit for Love," by Carl L. Williams, directed by Teri Campbell

A woman must help her father consider transitioning to a healthy lifestyle as a retiree. A $50 Spotlight Award winner.

If you go ...

WHAT: Eighth annual New Voice Play Festival

WHEN: Friday, June 20, throughSunday June, 22. Friday andSaturday shows start at 8 p.m.Sunday's show starts at 2:30 p.m.

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

COST: $12 adult admission; $8 student admission

MORE: For more information, go to

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