Oakland play named semifinalist in theater festival

Staff report


“Rain Delay,” a one-act play written by former Youngstown-area resident Cheryl Lilko Games, has made the list of semifinalists in the inaugural year of the LaBute New Theater Festival.

The festival, which is at the Gaslight Theater in St. Louis from July 5-28, show-cases original works by professional playwrights and high school students. Eight professional plays will be chosen, and a new piece by namesake playwright Neil LaBute will be unveiled each night.

The premiere of “Rain Delay” is being produced at the Oakland Center for the Arts. It is part of Double Header, a presentation of two baseball-themed one-acts that includes “For the Record,” written by local playwright Bernie Appugliese.

“Rain Delay” is one of 58 semifinalists in the LaBute festival. The list will be whittled down to the finalists in coming months.

The timing of the LaBute honor added to the excitement for Games, who now lives in California.

“I was thrilled to be notified that ‘Rain Delay’ was a semifinalist for the LaBute festival, [and it was] made all the more sweet that I found out during the play’s run at the Oakland. The good vibes were in the ether. It’s particularly gratifying that the festival committee responded to my character-driven piece, a tenet of LaBute’s work.”

LaBute is known for both film and stage plays. His films include “In the Company of Men,” “Nurse Betty” and “Your Friends and Neighbors.” His best-known stage plays are “Fat Pig,” “The Shape of Things” and “Autobahn.”

Festival rules stipulate that contestants’ plays focus on plot, character and theme and include no more than four characters. Particularly challenging is the requirement that the play can be staged on the Gaslight’s intimate 18-foot-by-18-foot space and run no longer than 45 minutes.

“Rain Delay” was originally part of last year’s Voices of the Valley New One Act Play Festival at the Youngstown Playhouse. A workshop of the play was directed by Youngstown State University theater professor Matthew Mazuroski at that time.

The Oakland production is being directed by Susi Thompson. The cast consists of Sam Perry, Holly Ceci and Liz Conrad.

The play is about a young woman who meets a solitary old man during a rain delay at a Cleveland Indians game. The two strike up a relationship based on the personal problems they share.

Double Header is entering is final weekend at the Oakland. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Oakland is at 220 W. Boardman St., downtown.

For information or to order tickets, call the box office at 330-746-0404 or go to oaklandcenter.com.

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