This is a landmark weekend for Orange County theater as the most frenetic burst of new play productions in its history takes place. The first event concludes tonight: Insurgo Theater Movement's Workshop. Ten short plays go up in the workshop, which was designed to bring together playwrights, directors and actors who'd never worked with each other before.
"It's a two-prong attack," said ITM head honcho John Beane. "It goes back to the idea of our company being a movement, a gang of people trying to push this thing forward. But it's also a way for us to scout and find people who might be able to direct in a way that matches up with our season."
Speaking of Insurgo, its weekly Friday night talk show, Kill Your Television, is playing to sold-out audiences every Friday at midnight, and proving the county's best bargain and one of its funniest and most entertaining shows. Every week is completely different; this week's bill includes a woman who sells sexual toys door to door. It's a mere five bucks and the best reason we can think of to be in Anaheim Hills at the witching hour. For information on both, check out www.insurgotheater.com.
Another new play event of an entirely different stripe is set for Saturday: the finals of the first-ever Playwrights Survivor Challenge. Ten playwrights showed up at Stages Theatreon Monday, June 30. Each drew one word from a hat (like tribe, crabs, immunity or hurricane) and was told to begin writing a play. Through a series of games and challenges, one playwright was voted out of the challenge each night for the next six nights. The four finalists (Ryan Boyd, Miles Nye, Robert Tomoguchiand Tiina Wiles-Mittler) get staged readings of their 30- to 40-minute plays this weekend. The winner will be chosen by the six playwrights already voted out of the competition.
The plays include two musicals—one about the last two Eskimos, the other about telemarketers who lose their jobs after the Do Not Disturb registry goes into effect— as well as a comedy about giant crabs from Neptune and a drama about a young widow who confronts the lies of her past.
"This is the only playwrights competition we know of where the participants get to pick a winner," said Johnna Adams, who is coordinating the challenge along with Paul Burt. "The Tribal Councils [where playwrights were voted out of the challenge] were a lot more extreme than we thought—some people went home crying. It was intense, but I think the playwrights really bonded. And we've wound up with four really good plays."
The finals begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Stages. It's free, but offering the "$5 suggested donation"sure would be nice.
The third new play this weekend is Newport Lights, which features full productions of short plays by some of the county's best writers. Billed as a "tsunami of short comic plays from the leading comedic playwrights in Orange County," the event is co-produced by two members of the Orange County Playwrights Alliance, and the Friends of Newport Theatre Arts Center.The show runs Thursday through Sunday, July 10-12. Call (949) 735-7706.
ITM Workshop at Insurgo Theater Movement, 4883 E. La Palma, Ste. 506, Anaheim Hills, (714) 517-7798. Thurs., July 10, 8 p.m. $12-$15; Playwright's Survivor Challenge at Stages Theatre, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Sat., 1 p.m. $5 suggested donation; Newport Lights at Newport Theatre Arts Center, 2501 Cliff Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 735-7706. Thurs.-Fri., July 10-11, 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $13.