South Florida Theatre League’s Andie Arthur on OMPF, and all things So Fla!
I have a feeling that on February 26th, when the first ever South Florida One-Minute Play Festival is over, there’ll be a general feeling of camaraderie and good will and a sincere request to Dominic to do it again next year.
Mainly because as a theatre community; we have so few opportunities to come together. There’s the Carbonell Awards, the South Florida Theatre League Annual Holiday Party and The Naked Stage’s 24 Hour Theatre Project, but there aren’t many times a year where a large cross section of the community gets to work together, established artists working side by side with emerging artists. A large factor in that is geography – the South Florida Theatre Community stretches from Jupiter to Key West. While there are small clusters of theatres in Boca Raton, Coral Gables, and Ft. Lauderdale, most theatres within our community are at least a 30 minute drive from the next closest theatre. It takes effort and planning to bring people together.
And not only will the One-Minute Play Festival bring people together, it allows South Florida to show the world (via New Play TV) that we have a considerable amount of talent. There are plays by South Florida Favorites, including Michael McKeever, Juan C. Sanchez, and David Sirois, but there will also be plays by some talented emerging playwrights as well as established playwrights who are from Miami, but aren’t produced here.
Along with the diversity of playwrights, we’ll get to hear from a varied group of directors, including two local artistic directors. All four of our directors are talented and have a passion for new work. Both New Theatre’s artistic director Ricky J. Martinez and literary manager Steven Chambers are directing. New Theatre is a well-established theatre, best known for the world premiere of Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics. It’s a member of the National New Play Network, and a supporter of local artists, including OMPF playwrights Juan C. Sanchez, Michael Mckeever, and David Caudle. In addition to Ricky and Steven, we’ll be working with Nicole Stodard and Elizabeth Price. Nicole is the artistic director of Thinking Cap Theatre, a new theatre in Ft. Lauderdale, with a mission to produce experimental, provocative, and socially-conscious work. Thinking Cap Theatre brought Joshua Conkel’s Milk, Milk Lemonade to South Florida, and will be producing The All-American Genderf**k Cabaret by #2amt favorite Mariah McCarthy later this season. Nicole herself is an active #2amt participant, and has an eye to what’s happening across the country. Rounding out our directors is Elizabeth Price, a freelance director who recently moved here and is currently working with City Theatre. She co-coordinated their CityWrights conference for playwrights with me last year, and has a brilliant mind. Since we have four very different perspectives, working with ten to eleven plays each, it’ll be great to see what the artistic diversity brings.
And of course, we couldn’t do this without performers. While I don’t know all the casts yet (the directors choose their own casts), I do know that the One-Minute Play Festival is going to be a great opportunity for emerging actors to be seen. Because we’re broadcasting the Festival on New Play TV, we are only working with non-Equity talent. Our local universities including Florida International University, University of Miami, Barry University, and the New World School of the Arts are graduating some impressive talent. Unfortunately, a considerable amount of our graduates feel the need to move to New York or Los Angeles to get work, particularly our actors of color. I don’t blame them for going where the work is – but I hope that if there’s a greater awareness that they’re here and they’re awesome, that they will have the opportunity to find more work locally and help strengthen the local theatrical eco-system.
If it isn’t clear already, what excites me the most about the One-Minute Play Festival is that it gives me another opportunity to build community; both within the festival itself and the goals that it supports. Income earned from the Festival will go right back into workshops by the South Florida Theatre League. In the past year, since we began our workshop program, we’ve been able to bring together theatre people of all ages and backgrounds to learn. We started last year with a workshop with the House Theatre of Chicago at the Adrienne Arsht Center, where we had forty people of all ages (from high school students to retirees) and backgrounds (from registered nurses to Carbonell Award Winners and multiple artistic directors) learning how to create devised work together. The registered nurses were able to take that knowledge to help create programs in children’s hospitals, while the artistic directors found another tool to help them craft their work – it was an amazing opportunity that we wanted to recreate.
When Jennifer Tisthammer asked me if I wanted to do workshops at the Deering Estate, I jumped at the chance. While the Theatre Lab is an ongoing project, we’ve already had a playwriting workshop and a viewpoints workshop – and we have two workshops to go, including one with the Puppet Network of South Florida. The Deering Estate workshops have been just as varied in participants as our first workshop with the House and with similar results, bringing a range of people from different backgrounds together.
And that’s why we’re happy to present the One-Minute Play Festival at the Deering Estate, because they have been crazy supportive of our work, of building community, and of playwrights in particular. The Deering Estate took in Miami-Dade County’s Playwright Development Program with open arms two years ago, essentially saving the program from elimination. The Playwright Development Program is a series of six weekend workshops spread out over two years, with a master playwright teaching up to four local playwrights. (Both Kenny Finkle, last cycle’s master playwright and Deborah Zoe Laufer, this cycle’s master playwright, are writing for OMPF.) The Deering Estate opened their attic space for the program, taking all the playwrights in as playwrights in residence, providing the support needed to keep the program going.
With so much good energy – from the space itself to the cross section of local artists participating – I have high hopes for the One-Minute Play Festival. It’s exactly the sort of event that can bring a community together and allow us to spread our Florida brand of sunshine out into the world.
The First South Florida One-Minute Play Festival will be held Sunday Feb 26th at 4:30PM and 8:30 PM at The Deering Estate. Tickets are $25 and proceeds will benefit SFTL’s playwright workshop programming. For tickets and info click here.