Love your theater in small doses? Then make plans to attend Random Writers “One Acts” opening this Friday, December 3rd at Bakersfield Community Theater.
Produced by local actor/director Thomas G. Robinson and author Nick Belardes, the event is the first in what they hope will become an annual holiday "break."
"December is a great time to have something like this," said Robinson, who works at Russo's Books, presenter of the festival. "You can separate yourself from all the holiday theater productions going on."
Robinson, who approached BCT about hosting the festival after some concerns involving space and staging from another event held in June, was initially inspired by a submission from Belardes. Tapped to direct his play, "Stonewall," Robinson pulled it from the June show with hopes for a future presentation.
"As a director, I thought of the layout to Nick's play and felt it wouldn't work at the time," he said. "BCT continued with their event, and I pitched my idea to Nick and BCT. Thankfully, they were very receptive to it."
Danvir Singh Grewal as “Tom," in a scene from “Interlude With Guppies,” directed by Justin Thompson. Photo by Laurin K. Lee
Taking the name from Belardes' weekly Random Writers Workshop, held at Russo's, both immediately went to work seeking participants and submissions.
"I sent out the request in early summer, with an October deadline," said Belardes. "I got about 10 responses. I sent them over to Thomas G. Robinson and suggested my favorites."
This is Belardes' first foray into the world of theater after years of involvement in the national literary scene. A self-published paperback writer who also boasts a best-selling trivia book titled "Random Obsessions," he says the experience has so far kept him at a comfortable distance.
"They're the theater experts, not me. I gave them some recommendations. We didn't agree on everything and that was OK."
At 10 to 20 minutes in length, the six plays range from drama to comedy. Some submissions arrived from Los Angeles and Chicago, through Belardes' connections at national literary site thenervousbreakdown.com.
"We branched out to work with more experienced writers for this rather than students from the workshop. Many at The Nervous Breakdown have been published in magazines and books -- guys like Rich Ferguson, who's performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His piece is just incredible."
When asked about Belardes' piece "Stonewall," Robinson described the scope of his vision and the work involved to make it effective onstage.
Seated is Ryan DeCarolis, as "Stonewall," with Tim Fromm as "Rick Greenbow", in a scene from Nick Belardes' "Stonewall," directed by Thomas G. Robinson. Photo by Laurin K. Lee
"The difference with Nick's play is that I have 13 actors, and the burden is to find the right actors to fit each part. I was really fortunate this time."
A fictionalized account loosely based on Belardes' own previous experiences, "Stonewall" examines the inner workings of mass media.
"Having worked in the media and observing the decision-making process to see how news stories are pulled, it's a strange experience. My play illustrates how sometimes there seems to be no rationality at how news stories are prioritized and the madness of a newsroom. I'm doing that through extreme controversy. I have to hit them with something really hard to drive that point home."
Looking forward to opening night, Robinson is amazed with the work from everyone involved.
"Bakersfield's in for a really nice treat if they come out."
From a band of thieves to a therapeutic group of tiny fish, “Random Writers One-Acts” offer everything from the funny to the controversial. Here’s a brief synopsis on each one-act play.
A daring Reverend enters a TV newsroom to reveal his theories in this fictional account of a shooting that leaves a reformed gang member dead and a cop wounded. Written by Nick Belardes (Bakersfield.) Directed by Thomas G. Robinson.
Everyone Else's Fault
On their fourth date, Steve explains his philosophy of blame to Kathy by using a series of examples from his dark past. Written by Gregory Boose (Chicago, Illinois.) Directed by Julie Jordan-Scott.
Interlude With Guppies
Tom talks to his guppies about his problems at work while a forceful presence offers “her” solution. Written by Judy Prince (Norfolk, Virginia.) Directed by Justin Thompson.
After the death of their father, it becomes all about “the stuff” as the three sisters meet the night before the funeral and all hell breaks loose. Written by Patty Wonderly (Bakersfield.) Directed by Thomas G. Robinson.
Sorcerer’s Swan Song
A down-on-their-luck band of Congolese sorcerer-thieves goes in for one last haul and must ultimately face a series of unpleasant and extremely naked truths. Written by Tyler Stoddard Smith (Austin, Texas.) Directed by Eric Tolley.
The First Time
This mesmerizing spoken word piece is a lyrical urban journey through the raw consciousness of American lovers and dreamers. Written by Rich Ferguson (Los Angeles.) Directed by Eric Tolley.
*Synopses courtesy of Nick Belardes
Russo's Books presents "Random Writers One-Acts"
When: 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, also Dec. 10 and 11
Where: Bakersfield Community, 2400 South Chester Avenue
*Story also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 12-2-10
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