Back home here in IowaScribeville after a whirlwind trip to Mankato, Minnesota with Mrs. IowaScribe for the Minnesota Shorts Play Festival, and what an excellent time we had!
Eight wonderful plays were selected out of over 400 for Day Two -- National Night -- including my little ditty, "Dream A Little Dream." IowaScribe seemed to be representing the Midwest, as plays were performed by established playwrights from New York and New Jersey, California, Virginia and Oklahoma. I was so honored to be among the elite of the elite!
Watching my play was a treat, indeed, as the director and the four women cast absolutely nailed it! The audience reaction was amazing, there were times it seemed the laughter would not stop! My highest appreciation goes out to director Maggie Maes and actors Amy Scruggs, Carol Rath, Noelle Lawton and Cindy Olson. They were true blue to my script while at the same time finding ways to put some unique characterization into the roles. Yes, since we were in Minnesota, an occasional "Uff Da" ad-lib was certainly appropriate, and the crowd of locals appreciated it! These talented ladies are members of Mankato's "Merely Players," and if Friday night's performance is any indication, this is a troupe who's work should not be missed! I got to meet these five thespians after the performance, and that was a treat as well!
It was not until well after the show when I found out that my play had won "Best in Fest," and my only reaction was, "Holy crap!" The other seven plays were so good that I didn't figure my play had much of a chance.
Mark Harvey Levine's "Scripted" opened the show, and the play finds a unique and entertaining way to consider such heavy topics as freewill and predestination. That was followed by Dan McGeehan's heart-wrenching "A Long Trip," which deals with the difficult subject of dementia in a very human, loving way. There was not a dry eye in the house after that play.
C.J. Ehrlich's "All's Fair In Love And Science" and Brett Hursey's "Kung Foolery" are both absurd comedies that seem to yank laughter from your gut, Never a dull moment in either of them.
Mary Steelsmith's "Seldom Is Heard" is an important play that deals with the most important of subjects -- yes, we all love and support our troops when we send them off to war, but what do we do with them when they return -- especially when they return with the kinds of wounds and injuries we can't stand to look at? The world of drama needs to look harder and deeper into these issues, from every angle, and Steelsmith needs to be commended for daring to write about this touchy and sensitive subject, while the people at Minnesota Shorts need to be commended for recognizing its importance.
Donna Hoke's "You Haven't Changed A Bit" is a sweet and sentimental yarn, with brilliantly written dialogue which absolutely rang true. I enjoyed listening to actors James Blaha and Shannon Maloney speak Hoke's words aloud so much that I almost did not want this play to end. In my mind, it was one of the festival's best moments.
Then there was actor Neil Schneider, who was drop-dead hilarious in Ruben Carbajal's "The Button Pushers." I don't know that I've ever seen such a whirlwind comedy performance on stage, Schneider nearly had me rolling in the aisles -- and I mean that literally -- a few more minutes of Schneider and I think I would have actually rolled in my aisle. Credit must go to Brandon Bruce, not just for doing an excellent job as the straight and serious man opposite Schneider, but simply for the ability to keep a straight face throughout. Having been on stage many times myself, I am sure I would have cracked up during that performance.
So after watching all of that, for my play to be selected by the audience as "Best In Fest" is truly a great honor! I was actually a little stunned, but am extremely proud of this little play of mine, and thankful for the group that performed it so well! Also so happy that some of my Minnesota friends and family were able to come watch it with me!
Thank you all so much!