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Cheeseburger Philosophy

 

Mark Della Ventura

 

 

Lights up on a playwright is staring at his computer.  After a few seconds, a friend enters…

 

Friend:  Hey.

Playwright:  Hey.

 

Quick pause…

 

Friend:  You okay?

 

Quick pause…

 

Friend:  What’s up?

Playwright:  Nothing, I’m just trying to think of something profound to say.

Friend:  For what?

Playwright:  For the One-Minute Play Festival this weekend…

Friend:  Oh, the one happening at the Deering Estate on Sunday, February 26th with a performance at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm?

Playwright:  Yeah, that one.  Dominic D’Andrea just e-mailed us asking us to write a blog post for the website.

Friend:  Ah…

Playwright:  So I’m trying to think of something smart to say so I don’t sound like an idiot.

Friend:  True.

Playwright:  I just don’t know where to start…

 

Quick pause…

 

Friend:  This might be stupid…

Playwright:  Okay.

Friend:  But what if you wrote a one-minute play about you not knowing what to write for the blog?

Playwright: (thinks) Do you think that’s tacky?

Friend:  I don’t know.  Maybe?

Playwright:  I don’t think anyone else did that.

Friend:  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Playwright:  Well, if it’s stupid, I could become the laughing stock of the theatre community. (beat) I’ll do it.

 

Blackout.  End of play.

 

My freshman year at New World School of the Arts, we took an improvisation class taught by David Kwiat and one of my favorite games was “Death in a Minute.”  The game is exactly what it sounds like: within sixty seconds, you and your scene partner need to die.  The end.

 

After the rules were explained, most of us just sat there, thinking.  I, personally, was a little intimidated by the task of having to create immediate circumstances, conflict and resolution through death.  And then after thinking about it for a minute (no pun intended), I became intrigued and excited.  It was liberating to not have to work so hard.  There was no time for over analyzing.  David Kwiat went on to explain, “you don’t even need to use the whole minute, just take however long it takes to die, but make sure it’s less than a minute.”  What I took from that advice was that you can tell a story in as much as five hours or in as little as five seconds: time really doesn’t matter.

 

When I first got Dominic D’Andrea’s e-mail about participating in the OMPF, my first reaction was slight confusion, which quickly made its way to excitement.  Many people in the South Florida theatre community know me as an actor, not really as a playwright.  So the thought of being a seen as a playwright and to share the stage with 20+ playwrights (who are established and recognized playwrights) was an honor.

 

Events like this are like a cheeseburger that I wouldn’t eat: rare, which make them all the more special.  One of my favorite parts of Naked Stage’s 24 Hour Theater Project is being surrounded by passion.  With that many artists in one location, it’s hard not to feel it and not to be affected and inspired by it.  Everyone is there to support everyone: to have a good time, to laugh, to think, to meet, to talk, to bond, to learn, to grow.

 

With my writing, I’m not trying to change the world…and it’s definitely affected by how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking.  I don’t do hours upon hours of research, trying to create worlds that I don’t know anything about.  I admire people that do.

 

I love making people smile, laugh and think.  I love telling stories.  I like letting a play be what it wants to be without imposing too much on it.  I even enjoy when I don’t understand something I write.  The best part is that there isn’t a formula; there isn’t a “paint by numbers” for playwrighting.  Like acting and directing (any art form, really), the process is ever evolving.  I’m always learning.  I’m always growing.  And always enjoying the ride.

 

Special thanks to Dominic D’Andrea and Tessa LaNeve for bringing this new and exciting event to South Florida!

 

And Sunday, after the festivities are complete, we as a community can say…(and this is how my mother likes cheeseburgers)…“well done!”

 

-Mark Della Ventura 

 

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. 

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