"Summerplay" makes its debut in Tacoma this weekend, featuring nine new plays under 10 minutes in a variety of genres from comedy to dark drama. But the two-weekend festival is actually 12 years old: It began in Denver, moved to Bremerton and is now appearing in Tacoma thanks to a developing partnership between Tacoma Little Theatre and the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, which produces it.
Directed by Pavlina Morris, "Summerplay 2014: A Festival of New Works" features short plays chosen from international submissions.
"We opened in Bremerton in 2002 as a springboard from the Denver company," explains Morris, who’s from Denver. "But it’s been hard finding our niche here on the peninsula. There’s a lot of mainstream theater here."
After seven years in its own space, Changing Scene went "nomadic" in 2009, still producing the fringe theater they’d begun with, and offering the "Summerplay" festival starting in 2003. But last December, they produced David Sedaris’ wickedly grumpy comedy "The Santaland Diaries" at Tacoma Little Theatre, and found in Tacoma a supportive alternative theater audience. They went on to produce "Didn’t See That Coming" in March at TLT, as well as a 10-minute-play workshop, and Morris directed TLT’s June production of "Moonlight and Magnolias."
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"The theater audience in Tacoma is a lot warmer to edgier theater like we do," Morris says. "I think we’re migrating."
"Summerplay" represents the best of 94 submissions of short plays from around the world. The company’s only requirements were minimal sets and technical needs, plus a small cast size — and that plays should be original and not yet produced.
Morris says there is great variety in the nine world premieres that include "Luck of the Irish" by Bremerton actor Charlie Birdsell, "Life-Changing Email" by Seattle’s John Davenport, and other plays by Scott Gibson, Donna Hoke, David Brendan Hopes, Mark Harvey Levine, Ian Thal, Todd Wallinger and Michael Weems.
"There’s something for everyone, for sure," she says.