You might say it’s theater for the modern attention span.
Theater Artists Olympia’s An Improbable Peck of Plays Vol. IV offers eight plays, each just five or 10 minutes long.
“The bulk of them are really light-hearted and fun,” said Christopher Rocco, who is producing the evening of theater, in its opening weekend at The Midnight Sun Performance Space.
Rocco also is directing one of the comedies, “Cherry-Flavored Chemistry,” by Jackie Nordquist of Tacoma, who is in turn directing Sherry Narens’ poetic “Village of the Sirens.”
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“Chemistry” is about two students doing homework and flirting. “It’s really nerdy and cute,” Rocco said.
He was looking for something fun after his last directing job, helming Theater Artist’s Olympia’s “In a Dark, Dark House.” Let’s just say it’s no accident that the word “dark” appears twice in the title of the 2014 Neil LaBute play.
“The opportunity to do something lighter and more fluffy was appealing,” he said. “I read the script, and I saw the potential for a lot of humor and a lot of fun.”
While the company is best known for darker pieces — June’s “Tartuffe” having been an exception — there was no plan to keep things light for the evening of short plays.
Each director chose what to direct from plays submitted for consideration by the Northwest Playwrights Association, as well as plays submitted directly to Theater Artists Olympia. The selections include “Something More Cheerful,” by Morgan Picton of Olympia, best known as an actor and comedian.
The directors share a cast of a dozen, including Debbie Barho Sampson, Aaron Bredlau, Ethan Bujeaud, Christian Carvajal, Sara Fiksdal, Sara Geiger and Maxwell Schilling.
Gabriel McClelland of Lakewood is directing two plays, Gregory Hirschak’s absurdist “The Wisdoming,” about an unsuspecting student who encounters a strange old sea captain, and Adam Seide’s “One for the Chipper,” about a losing Little League team with only four players.
It’s the first time McClelland has directed since high school, though he’s familiar to South Sound theatergoers thanks to roles in Harlequin Productions’ “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” and “A Rock ’n’ Roll Twelfth Night” and Theater Artists Olympia’s “Titus Andronicus” and “Reservoir Dogs,” along with many productions in Tacoma and Lakewood.
“My favorite thing is to laugh,” he said. “I decided to go with comedy for directing, but when it comes to acting, I much prefer dramatic pieces.”
He has been looking to direct a full-length production, he said, and Theater’s Artists Olympia’s Pug Bujeaud suggested he work on the Peck of Plays as a way to show what he could do.
“Theater is one of my main passions in life,” he said. “I wanted to give myself a stretch and see if I could do something that was a little beyond the scope that I’m used to.”
AN IMPROBABLE PECK OF PLAYS VOL. IV
What: The fourth annual mini-festival, produced by Theater Artists Olympia with help from the Northwest Playwrights Association, showcases short plays by Northwest playwrights.
When: 9 p.m. Friday (Aug. 7)-Sunday plus Aug. 13-16 and Aug. 20-22, with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 23.
Where: The Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 N. Columbia St., Olympia.
Tickets: $15, $12 for students and seniors at the door or online at taopeck4.bpt.me. No one will be turned away. For the Aug. 13 show, pay what you can at the door.
▪ “The Restore,” by Merridawn Duckler, directed by Lanita Grice.
▪ “Amenities,” by Gregory Hirschak, directed by Deane Shellman.
▪ “The Wisdoming,” by Hirschak, directed by Gabriel McClelland.
▪ “Village of the Sirens,” by Sherry Narens, directed by Jackie Nordquist.
▪ “Cherry-Flavored Chemistry,” by Nordquist, directed by Christopher Rocco.
▪ “Something More Cheerful,” by Morgan Picton, directed by Amanda Stevens.
▪ “One for the Chipper,” by Adam Seide, directed by McClelland.
▪ “Glory, Glory, Vanish,” by Eva Suter, directed by Xander Layden.