Joanne Fayan's & Jim Sullivan - "Clown Therapy"

Joanne Fayan's & Jim Sullivan - "Clown Therapy"

Not only is August the 6th Annual One Act Play Fest at the Artists’ Exchange in Cranston, RI; it also is the 7th anniversary of the founding of this unique program at the Black Box, combining theater arts and human resources in a community setting.

For this One Act Fest, the key words are opportunity and excellence. This program presents opportunities for both new and experienced playwrights, new and experienced actors, plus those in the Gateways programs, opportunities for students and interns to learn about theater, and an opportunity for the public to view new and exciting talent right here in Rhode Island.

The real star attraction in the One Act Fest is the writing. Each one-act is written cleverly, with care and intent, and had not only “face-value” entertainment, but also a bit of advice about life and what is important. Several plays would have been hard to understand without the clear direction of Rich Morra.

I was impressed with the variety of genres chosen out of the nearly 200 one-acts submitted from throughout the country and Canada for consideration. The evening began with a creepy ghost story, titled “A Winter Place”, from Kevin Broccoli. Actors Alex Rotella and Erin Archer take us from a reality to an unreality, raising goose-bumps along the way.

“Scripted” written by Mark Harvey Levine was fresh and surprising. Funny, yet poignant, it leaves the affected couple, played by Sharon Carpentier and Jim Sullivan, with a completely new perspective on their lives.

“Cyjoe Barker At the Theatre” by Barbara Schweitzer, immediately brought the audience to a totally new experience with a high-spirited, fast-paced farce. Christina Mealey (Cyjoe Barker) created a strong, stylized presence as as the tough, fast-talking detective bent on solving the murder. Her characterization was spot-on for this genre. Also of note was Chris Martin as the overly dramatic theater owner, zealously chewing up the scenery and cracking up the audience. Chris White was solid and strong as Ms. Barker’s assistant, and Mike Xiahos added to the chaos as the confused, emotional Hector Ares.

“Final Descent” by Joanne Fayan presented the largest ensemble with alternating humor and mystery. This was one of the plays I kept thinking about after the show. It presented questions we will all face at some point in time. The people in the plane knew where they were going, except two people changed their minds (Tom Chace and Mari Dias). Time ticks away as the two argue and wrestle over the last parachute available on the plane.

There are nine one-acts presented in this “wave” of the shows. Rich Morra explained that nine different one-acts will be presented in the second half of the month, starting on August 18th. The intimate setting of the Black Box lends itself well to the one-act time and structure.

This set even includes a well-done absurdest play, “The Hollow Men” by Greg Davis” that makes fun of absurdest plays! Be sure to check out both sets of plays to enjoy the great variety of talent on display.

Artists Exchange

Kayla Quirk & Robert C. Reynolds - "Singular of Dice"

Also notable in this set are Kayla Quirk, tough, yet attractive, as the female assassin, and Robert C. Reynolds as the daring, but very nervous, journalist that meets with her for a memorable story. The play is “Singular of Dice” by Ross Tedford Kendall.  It is a thriller with a surprise ending.

Some performances throughout the evening were more polished than others, but again, the one-acts are original and thought-provoking, and receive good exposure through a festival like this one.

The press preview evening was capped off with an old theater maxim: always leave them laughing. “Clown Therapy” by Nina Marshfield brought the house down. Not only was her dialog witty, but the outstanding abandon of Joanne Fayan’s performance as the clown’s wife was the pinnacle of commitment to the character. Jim Sullivan as the clown was quite enjoyable as was Sharon Carpentier as the confused counselor.

Rich Morra, Artistic Director, emphazised the importance of community involvement in their program and providing optimum opportunity for all. The parent company of both the Black Box and the Artists’ Exchange is Gateways to Change, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities in a community setting.

For tickets, times and dates call 401-490-9475. For more information about The Artists Exchange and the Black Box programs visit their website at: