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THEATER One-act plays capture variety of characters



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The six varied short plays will showcase community actors and directors.

By L. CROW

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

YOUNGSTOWN -- There's something new happening at the Oakland Center for the Arts this weekend and next. Six one-act plays will be performed over two nights, then repeated the following weekend.

Liz Rubino, artistic director for the Oakland is excited about this new project. "This is a great opportunity for community actors that are now directing, and YSU theater students, to show everyone what they can do," says Rubino. "It is a showcase for up-and-coming directors."

Each director chose a one-act play (or act from a larger play). One of the plays performed Friday is "WASP," by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin). It is directed by Emily Clark, who describes it as "a mildly dark-humored comedy about the 1950s 'perfect family' model, which touches on their forced roles, especially the role of the father as protector and provider. It's truly a Steve Martin comedy with his particular brand of humor written all over it -- witty comebacks, sarcasms, idiocy ... very funny."

Clark is a recent YSU theater graduate who will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in the fall for a MFA in Stage Management. She directed YSU's recent "Spinning into Butter."

Character conflicts

Also Friday was "Zoo Story" by Edward Albee, starring Nate Beagle and Al McKinnon and directed by Greg Palmer. It is a play about two men in Central Park. One, Peter, a well-to-do, conventional man, sits peacefully reading, as he is approached by Jerry, a rejected vagrant who just desperately wants to be heard. The intense drama comes to a violent end.

This is McKinnon's third appearance in the role of Jerry, the tortured soul. Otherwise, he is a computer specialist at the Warren Public Library.

Beagle studied acting at the American Academy of the Arts in New York City, and will study theater at YSU in the fall. He is a teaching artist at S.M.A.R.T.S. in Youngstown.

Anna Frabutt directs "To Engage in Mutual Touching and Caressing of the Lips," also Friday, an unpublished play by Jody Handley, who lives in California but is originally from Pittsburgh. "This one-act explores the undefined relationship between two people and what happens when one pushes for 'definition,'" says Frabutt. She also says she is excited to work with unpublished playwrights.

This is Frabutt's second directing project. She created and directed "That's Amore," produced by Move Over Broadway Productions. Her main activity, however, is acting. She made audiences laugh in her role as the hard-of-hearing mother-in-law, Ethel, in "Moon Over Buffalo," a recent Youngstown Playhouse production.

Unusual plays

Tonight, Gary Shackleford directs "The Bald Soprano," an absurd play written by Eugene Ionesco as he was trying to learn English using the "Assimil" method. It was originally called "English Without Pain" but earned its current title from a slip-up made by one of the actors.

"'dentity Crisis" by Christopher Durang will be directed by Missy Bookbinder. This bizarre farce is about Jane, recovering from a nervous breakdown, while the world around her goes insane. All the characters change, including a sex-change by Jane's psychiatrist and his wife. Her brother becomes her father, grandfather and a French count. Her mother, played by Edith Fromage, claims to have invented cheese. Then they all take on Jane's identity, and she isn't sure just who she is.

Tonight's third play is "Visitor from Forest Hills" by Eugene O'Neill, directed by YSU student Richard Bell.

Bell played the part of Billy in YSU's production of "Anything Goes." He also was the stage manager for "Spinning into Butter," and has choreographed various shows.

These one-act plays will be repeated on June 10-11, except the order will be reversed; Friday's shows will be on Saturday and vice versa.

XTickets or info: (330) 746-0404.




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