- The Enterprise
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Praying for a miracle.
The power of political propaganda.
Then, there’s the vampire.
This year’s Southern Maryland Originals presentation touches on all of these topics and that is just from the five one-act plays featured in the performance. The annual celebration of local writing and performance also includes a poetry reading that focuses on the experience of growing up in the 1950s, folk music and a spoken-word performance.
So, this is what some area residents are thinking about as they wait in line in the grocery store or drive to and from work in Southern Maryland.
Southern Maryland Originals was initiated three years ago by Lisa Gregory of Leonardtown, the artistic and technical director of the show, to showcase that creativity. The more than two-hour presentation was presented for friends, family and the press Nov. 5.
Gregory had done some work with The Newtowne Players, the acting troupe at Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park. While the troupe sometimes performs work written by local writers, the group didn’t want to focus just on local writing. They thought it involved too much risk, Gregory said.
“But you know what? I like risk,” she said before the Nov. 5 performance.
The College of Southern Maryland “has been brilliantly supportive” of the effort, she said, and backs the annual presentation through its performing arts club and by providing the venue at the Leonardtown campus Building A auditorium.
The idea is simple. “We just try to showcase local work,” Gregory said.
One of the playwrights showcased in this year’s show is Regan Cashman of Chesapeake Beach, who wrote “The Set Up,” a romantic comedy about online relationships becoming real relationships. Cashman also acted in her play and served as master of ceremonies, introducing each performance. Cashman is the vice president and youth troupe director for The Twin Beach Players in North Beach. While she has written several plays, “The Set Up” is her first to be produced.
She said she stood backstage and listened to the audience’s response. “It was nice to hear people laughing at it,” she said later.
“A Happy Life,” by Andrea Hein of Clements, is the opening play, a drama about a time when the government has banned abortion and a young couple, played by Joseph W. Turner and Hailey Dodges, debate how to deal with an unexpected pregnancy.
“Miracle at Downtown Alley,” written by 12-year-old twins Loranika and Varanika Sharma of Waldorf, is about a woman praying for a miracle so that her charity can avoid foreclosure.
“Vicky,” by Peter S. Coburg, which is a pen name for a Southern Maryland resident, features Gregory as a vigilante vampire, and Turner again, this time as a reporter.
The final play, “Middle Ground” by R. DaSilva of St. Mary’s County, was selected to be part of the Maryland State One-Act Festival and focuses on a political speech during an election. A man named David, played by Robert Rausch, and his wife, played by Wendy Heidrich, try to sabotage an election by writing speeches for a conservative candidate when David is a devoted liberal.
In addition to the one-act plays, Southern Maryland Originals 2012 features Debs Szymkowiak of St. Mary’s, a regular with the Folk Salad Trio, performing three of her original songs, and poet Randy Bridgeman of Lexington Park reading several poems from his 2008 book, “Mechanic on Duty.”
The night’s one spoken-word performance is a comedy featuring Turner performing the action while writer Fred Ruark of California reads his piece, “The Goalie,” and serves as part of the performance, as well.
The producer of this year’s Southern Maryland Originals is George R. Johnson, who also performs in one of the one-acts, “Miracle at Downtown Alley.” In previous years, he was one of the playwrights, writing “The Importance of Being Hairy,” and an actor.
The chief strength of the collection of works that make up this year’s Southern Maryland Originals presentation “is the diversity of the writers,” Johnson said. “The strength of the show really comes from the writers.”
He noted that Southern Maryland has many opportunities for residents to see high-quality, locally produced and acted performances and locally written performances at events like Southern Maryland Originals.
“Oh my gosh, it’s incredible how talented these people are,” he said. “I think the community will respond very well [to Southern Maryland Originals 2012]. The hard part is getting them there.”