The Extremely Short New Play Festival is an entertaining and fascinating evening of theatre that sparks the imagination through the unique voices of some of Ottawa’s creative and talented playwrights.
Should you see it?
Last night I had the privilege of attending the preview of The Extremely Short New Play Festival. Directed by John Koensgen, this festival showcases ten very short (as the name suggests) plays. Selected from 51 submissions, each play runs anywhere from two to ten minutes and has a very different tone and story. Some are humorous, some dramatic. Some are ensemble pieces, others monologues. All of them are very good.
I found myself intrigued by each premise. Some stood out more than others, but each sparked the imagination by giving a brief glimpse into a much larger and complex story. Ex Libris, by Yohanan Kaldi, and Buying Time, by Rosaleen Egan, stood out most for me. While Ex Libris is much more self-contained than some of the others, the quirky storyline, in combination with its brevity, made it stand out as particularly hilarious. Buying Time is dramatic, with a premise that starts off as a simple conversation between a shopkeeper and a customer and turns into something that leaves the audience with more questions than answers. Dream On, by Brad Long, also deserves mention for its use of lighting to mobilize an otherwise stationary play, although it did feel a little long.
The actors – Mary Ellis, Gabrielle Lazarovitz, Brad Long and John Muggleton – did a great job highlighting the uniqueness of each character they played. This is important in any production, but especially when the production relies on one actor playing multiple roles.
The creative team has done a great job injecting some consistency between the plays. Costumes and props are all black and white – a theme that permeates through the production. Before each new play begins, a sample of the script and title is projected onto the floor and wall. These flourishes help create an aesthetic consistency that ties all the pieces together despite the varying themes, tones and plots.
I suppose what I enjoyed most about this festival is the fact that it’s very much about showcasing the writing. It’s best to experience this for yourself, and given the variety, there’s something for everyone. So check it out! The Extremely Short New Play Festival runs from November 20 to November 30. Run time is about 90 minutes including a 15-minute intermission.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did the collection of plays spark your imagination? Did you enjoy the variety? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!