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The ArtsCenter Review: Second Annual Play Slam! Showcases Witty Works by N.C. Playwrights

August 24, 2004 - Carrboro, NC:


The Second Annual Play Slam! staged Aug. 20 at The ArtsCenter of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County, NC, hosted by the Charlotte-based N.C. Playwrights Alliance, and emceed by Transactors Improv Co. director Greg Hohn was a lively, crowd-pleasing exhibition that showcased 20 short works by Tar Heel dramatists and allowed the audience to pick the best script of the evening. "Sitting Down" by Jerome Oster won by a narrow margin, but the real winners were our home-grown playwrights, who got a chance to see their concepts and characters come alive, and Triangle theatergoers, who enjoyed an entertaining potpourri of stimulating short plays, one to three minutes in length.

"Sitting Down," starring David Berberian and Steve Scott as two white guys sitting around talking about men who urinate sitting down, is good but would not have been my pick. I thought Oster's other play, "A Small Ophelia," starring Berberian as male-chauvinist pig of a television director and Eryn Makepeace as an actress auditioning to do a voice over for a national TV commercial, and refusing to doff her to satisfy the director's prurient interest, was a more interesting script.

I also liked Adrienne Pender's "Goddess Minerva," starring J Evarts as an injured woman who needs to find her inner bitch before negotiating, via telephone, with what radio consumer advocate Clark Howard calls "customer no service" and David Berberian as the male friend who helps her find it. Pender's "Bolero," starring Kendall Rileigh and Nick Winstead as ballet dancers and new lovers who begin bickering before the curtain goes up, was also amusing.

Also numbered among the evening's most entertaining offerings were: "Maxine," written by Nathan Ross Freeman and starring Barbette Hunter as a mother trying to explain the Facts of Life to her 12-year-old son; "Susan and Chloe," written by Barbara Pierce and starring Pierce as a mother who came of age in the 1960s who tries to convince her daughter (Eryn Makepeace) to do as she says not as she did; and "Julia's In My Kitchen," written by Sturtle and starring David Berberian as the exasperated host of a TV cooking show that he must share with the late Julia Child (Hunter).

Other promising short plays and excerpts from longer works performed included "The Box" and "The Truth Commission" by John Paul Middlesworth; "Disco Daze" and "Everything Is Wonderful" by Annie Taft; "Two MaMa" and "That Loving Feeling" by Richard Piazza; "In the Green Room" by Sturtle; "Finding Clara" and "Finding Clara (Act 2)" by June Guralnick; "The Name Game" and "Street Life Trapped in Confused Freedom" by Mary Stone Manley; "Shamina" by Nathan Ross Freeman; and "Douglas and Luke" by Barbara Pierce.

Other actors participating, but not mentioned above, included Thomas "TeKay" King, Mary Stone Manley, Jim Roman, and Lauren Walker.

The ArtsCenter of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County: http://www.artscenterlive.org/. N.C. Playwrights Alliance: http://www.ncplaywrightsalliance.org/.