The 24th season of City Theatre’s Summer Shorts Festival now showing at the Adrienne Arsht Center Carnival Studio through June 23 has hit the stage running with rave reviews from critics like Bill Hirchman of Florida Theatre on Stage who called it “both terribly funny and poignantly evocative.”
The eight short plays are about ten minutes in length and include two musicals: one about a girl having visions of a forgotten president while preparing a homework assignment (dragons are involved), and the second of a has been dairy cow who longs for her glory days, a-la Nora Desmond.
The theatre is an intimate setting with VIP optional seating up front where cozy round tables offer the perfect drink placement and guests receive a special commemorative gift along with their cocktail.
This year photo opportunities are included where guests and their plus one can take a selfie in a beach scene that could be from Bill Baggs State Park.
It is all part of the festive and brightly colored Susi Westfall Stage experience aligned with surf boards, pink flamingoes, and plastic floats reminiscent of a Beach Boys song or a Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movie.
A break from reality to unwind, “check out of your head” as founder Westfall likes to encourage theatre goers to do, and enjoy the ride.
Although a whimsical and comic trip, as Hirchman said, there is depth here that touches the heart and makes for a relatable reflection on the at times twisted realities of modern life.
A woman melts down at the “Frozen Foods” aisle with dialogue about the seeming futility of it all pondered over discounted Salisbury Steak….rich indeed.
In a seemingly ironic take on the business of modern friendships and the technological anonymity of facebook connections or swiping relationships, two men meet for an interview on whether or not they will be buddies. The entire arch of their lives is encapsulated elegantly and tear-jerkingly in the time it takes to tag an Instagram post.
It is a marvel from Jeff Locker who won the 43rd Annual Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival for his work and was also a finalist this year for City Theatre’s National Award for Short Playwriting Contest. He is currently developing it into a television series.
Margaret M. Ledford’s “The Presentation” was also a City Theatre Contest finalist and understandably in the playwright’s effortless way of broaching serious “Me Too Movement” topics into a fun romp when a sexual harassment coach attempts to educate a motley crew of Vikings.
In “Telephones and Bad Weather” by Steve Yockey and “This is How Ghosts Speak” by Jen Diamond, the plays are strikingly different yet share a wondrous commonality. Each presentation ponders the supernatural and divine during banal moments of life caused by events like a power outage or that incessant phone call.
The Summer Shorts Festival entertainment adventures are all boldly original unique works of art.
Yet in their at times irreverent and inquisitive posture, share a compelling engagement with the audience about cathartic contemplations of the tragic hilarities in life.
(break out box)
The weekend of June 8 at City Theatre’s Summer Shorts Festival was also host to the CityWrights Industry Day Professional Sessions.
City Theatre founder Susi Westfall explains:
“The sessions were constructive, informative and lively, which is the goal. They’re designed to give playwrights access to theatre leaders and a wider community of fellow playwrights--to inform and connect person to person.
It’s helpful and direct and great collaborations usually follow, same for me and City Theatre. We continue to build on and develop our professional relationships and that usually means for me lots of introductions for the business purpose of show business, and cooking up new artistic projects and opportunities.
This year because of Theater Communications Group being in Miami for its national conference last week, and CityWrights this weekend, Summer Shorts was seen by its largest national artistic community which is a good thing.
I think most people enjoyed and hopefully locally we will have a really successful run.”