Wednesday, June 1, 2011

50 Plays - Opening Night June 16, 2011 8pm - updated 6/7/11

In case you were wondering why my blog updates have been rare, it's because I have been busy working on 50 Plays. It's this year's 365 Sketches. 50 directors, 50 casts, 50 ten minute(ish) plays. All at the Strawdog. Tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets.

Unlike 365 where I wrote a comedy sketch a day for a year, this has been about assembling 50 ten minute plays. Some have been previously produced. Most of them have been written for this event. Directors cast their piece, I met with them and asked them some questions, then I went off and wrote a piece with that cast and director in mind. It's a fun process and allowed me to confidently add things to a script and not worry about whether or not the director could find someone who played ukulele or juggled or roller skated.

Here's what's playing opening night. Still in the process of gathering information from the directors. Info like, who their cast is! Quite a task getting 50 directors to give you what you need in a timely fashion.

Here's the first five plays to be present at 50 Plays with my comments about them below. One piece, WRWR, has been split up into three parts.

We Reach With Radio (1) – director Brea Hayes - cast: Kai Young, Max Lapine

Cheddar Moon – director Danni Parpan - cast: Alex Marcus, Conor McCahill, Ike Holter, David Seeber

WRWR (2) – director Brea Hayes - cast: cast: Kai Young, Brendan Buckley

Baby Blue Sedan – director J. Cody Spellman - cast: Jonathan Wallace, Torian Miller, Ryan Hake. Special Thanks to David Woolley, Sam Hubbard, Kathryn Acosta

Sleeping Handsome – director Tyler Wilsey - cast: Danni Parpan, Joe Barlow

WRWR (3) – director Brea Hayes - cast: cast: Kai Young, Max Lapine, AJ Ware

Burka Betty – director Kyra Lewandowsky -
cast: Dana Black. Special Thanks to Sally Akrawe (dialect help), Jennifer Kincaid (rehearsal space), John Pierson (wheelchair)

Directors' Bios

Brea Hayes is a very nice girl who sometimes directs plays and makes theater throughout the Chicago area. She is a graduate of the theater program at Columbia College Chicago. Her day job is at Court Theater. She is motivated by cupcakes and cute animals.

Danni Parpan is thrilled to be working on Joe Jane's 50 Plays! She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 where she received her BA in Theater-acting. Danni directed for Joe Jane's 365 Sketches last year and has assistant directed several shows at Act One Studios under under the direction of Kimberly Senior and Steve Merle. She also assistant directed "Zombies Attack Chicago" with Anna Rose Epstein for NWaC and "Uncle Vanya" at Strawdog Theater Company under the direction of Kimberly Senior. Her acting credits include Ilse in "Spring Awakening", Hattie in "Laundry and Bourbon", Roberta in "Jack, or the Submission", Bree, in NWaC's "Corner Critics" and Mystical Mary in NWaC's first ever "Spooktaular". Special thanks to Joe Janes, Tyler Wilsey, NWaC, and Jack Bourgeois for letting me use his internet to write this in the middle of moving!

J. Cody Spellman is a Junior Directing Theatre Major at Columbia College. His previous works include assistant directing The Normal Heart, Equus, and Floyd Collins, where he also was the dramaturg. Right now he is directing a film with Postmark Productions, stage managing the Neapolitan Theatre Co's Off Chekhov Fest, and will be assisting Brian Posen on This Is Our Youth, as well as Dramaturg for Columbia's next mainstage show Splendora.

Tyler Veronica Wilsey is very excited to be directing something on her home turf. She was recently hired as the Production Manager for Strawdog's 24th season. She is also a graduate of Columbia College's Directing Program, and has worked as a stage manager for several companies around town. She hasn't gotten to write music in a hot minute, and had a great time working on the show. Love to the Fifis, Garbo, and Danni Lee.

Kyra Lewandowsky: Kyra met Joe while directing for WNEP’s Nighthawk Sandwich last year and is tickled to be working with him again on this awesome project. Previous directing credits include Verse Chorus Verse with Tympanic Theatre, Curse of the Starving Class with New Leaf Theatre, Polaroid Stories with Village Players Theatre as well as work with Rivendell Theatre, Teatro Vista, the side project, Griffin Theatre, Collaboraction, Infusion Theatre, Hobo Junction Productions, Appetite Theatre and 20 % Theatre.

Here are my notes about these pieces and why I think you should see this show.

We Reach With Radio was previously produced as part of 365 Sketches. WRWR is biographical about my days working at a local radio station when I was a year out of high school, but not yet in college. The scenes represented really happened. I cherish those days.

Cheddar Moon was previously produced for Columbia College's 24-Hour Plays festival and Chicago Dramatist's and The Second City Training Center's 10-Minute Play festival. Cheddar Moon is one of my all time favorite pieces. I wrote it a few years ago (2007?) for the Columbia College 24-Hour Plays Festival. It was the first festival I ever did of that nature and I was so happy with the results, I did more of them. It put me on the path that led to doing 365 Sketches, for sure.

Baby Blue Sedan is a world premiere. Baby Blue Sedan was written for actors from Columbia College that I enjoyed having as students. It's a thrill to have Ryan in the piece because I flunked him. He's talented, but abused the tardy/attendance policy. I felt bad about it. I'm glad he doesn't hold a grudge. Or he does, and he's going to take it out in this play. Worth seeing, either way.

Sleeping Handsome is a world premiere. It's a mini-musical and gender swap on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

Burka Betty is a world premiere.The evening ends with one of my favorite actresses, Dana Black, in Burka Betty. She worked with Don Hall and I on our Sketchfest show. She's as brilliant at comedy as she is drama. I took writing her piece very seriously. She plays an Iraqi woman who takes to the airwaves at night a la Tokyo Rose. There's more to her pain, but I don't want to spoil it.


There is now a post-show event added to opening night of 50 Plays. The bulk of 50 Plays was written through meeting with directors and then casts and then writing a play with them in mind. Right after the first five plays, the audience is invited to stick around and watch Joe interview Jason Fleece and his cast before writing their 10 minute play which will go up two days later on Saturday, June 18th in the 8pm show. Good times.