Passionate acting, rich characters and intense storylines will take center stage this weekend as the Gaithersburg Arts Barn and the Montgomery Playhouse team up to present the 13th annual One-Act Play Festival.
The two-weekend festival features eight different short plays — three of which are published works — that are performed and directed by many community theater participants. Four of the works are performed each day.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, along with a special matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. The same plays will also be performed next weekend at the same times.
This weekend’s lineup includes Robert Anderson’s “I’m Herbert,” Susan Miller’s “The Grand Design,” Alexis Roblan’s “Color Blue” and Evan Guilford-Blake’s “Nighthawks” on Friday and Sunday. Guilford-Blake’s “Weavers,” Kryss Lacovaro’s “Fight or Flight,” Frances A. Lewis’ “Goode Grief” and Eric Coble’s “H.R.” take the stage on Saturday.
Each play lasts anywhere from 15 to 50 minutes, according to David Jones, the executive producer at the Montgomery Playhouse. There are 29 cast members and five support members involved.
Shellie Williams, arts administrator for the city, said the summer festival’s material delves into a variety of more obscure societal issues, like death, drugs and sexual violence.
“Some of these [plays] are really, really edgy and push at our boundaries of comfort with theater, yet they explore important topics,” Williams said.
“Color Blue,” describes the story of two teenage girls who learn about the dangers of talking to strangers. While playing hookey from school and using drugs behind a dumpster, they are approached by two men who abduct one of the girls.
“H.R.” shows workplace angst when human resources staff make an unexpected visit to the office. Coble penned a humorous script to tell the tale, creating four characters who are each hiding a secret.
“It’s a really eclectic mix,” Williams said of the performances. “[The festival] is wonderful for people who are interested in seeing what shorter works are like. In all of these, people will be walking away talking about them.”
One reason Jones enjoys producing the festival is the brevity of the plays.
“The production has to create the world in which we are invited to visit and tell the story in a short amount of time,” Jones wrote in an email to The Gazette. “Some plays are more successful at this than others but it’s always interesting.”
Montgomery Playhouse also auditions the performers and actors, while the Arts Barn takes care of the marketing aspect for the event and provides the space, among other things, Williams said.
Admission for one day is $14 for city residents and $16 for nonresidents. Because of adult themes and language in some of the plays, the festival is recommended for those age 17 and older.
For more information, contact the Arts Barn at 301-258-6394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.