A copyright issue over the use of the name 24-hour Play Festival drove organizer and Taichung Improv group founder Josh Myers to hold a competition to find a new name for the event, which has writers, directors, actors, costumers and stage hands racing the clock to come up with original plays that open to a live audience 24 hours after writers are first given prompts. This year, shows start at 8pm tomorrow at the Open Theater in Taichung.
Returning actor and director Quenntis Ashby (a former member of the Cape Town City Ballet) was the winner, christening the event Quickies.
Myers said that from the moment he saw the name he knew it was the one. “It’s catchy and quirky and sums the whole process up beautifully,” he said. “There’s a quick moment of thinking it’s too risque, but everyone has embraced the name so much and is using it as if it’s always been called Quickies!”
This is the third year that Taichung Improv has put on the event, and though the process occurs on a tight schedule, last year’s results were surprisingly good. Highlights included a coming-out play with a twist: a young man decides to finally reveal his sexual orientation to his liberal gay parents, who are horrified to discover he is straight. Kevin MacLeod’s portrayal of the distraught, flamboyant gay father was particularly engaging.
Another gem was Matthew Flint’s Farm Hands and Legs. The tagline read: At the farmhand restaurant you really are what you eat! This cannibal cafe themed piece told the story of a shady restaurant that sold human flesh to unsuspecting customers.
Myers had to have “a selection process this year for the playwrights due to popular demand,” he said. “People applied from far and wide and we decided to go with some old and some new faces — the ones that best represent the spirit of Quickies — slightly absurd, a tad off the wall, undoubtedly funny and quirkily light.”
When: Tomorrow at 8pm, doors open at 7:30pm
Where: Open Theater (大開劇團) B1, 107, Jhonggang Rd Sec 3, Greater Taichung (台中市西屯區台中港路三段107號B1).
On the net: www.opentheater.org
Admission: Tickets are NT$400 at the door
Getting there: The theater is in the basement of the Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀) building, next to the Chinatrust Bank. A taxi from Taichung Train Station or the Taiwan High Speed Rail’s Taichung Station takes 20 to 25 minutes
On the Net: www.taichungimprov.com
Flint is returning for the third year, teaming up with his father Dave Flint to write as a father-son team. Myers estimates that they have about half returning and half new faces for actors, with all the directors having done the festival before.
That includes Rachel McPhail, who wrote the first play for the first festival, Sarah Weinstein who has worked at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, the school in the movie Fame, Shaun Keenan, who recently filmed Swinging Bear in Kaohsiung, Ashby, and John Maloney.
Myers is especially excited about Maloney, who is currently a professor at the Tainan University of Technology Department of Applied English and has worked extensively as an actor, director and assistant-director in theater, opera, musical theater and dance on Broadway, Off Broadway, and regionally across the US with groups including the New York Theater Workshop, Chicago Opera Theater, and Los Angeles Center Theater Group.
Most of the actors are associated with either Taichung Improv or Taipei Players, including actor and rock musician Brandon Thompson.
The process begins tonight when writers draw their qualifiers or parameters from four different hats labeled “settings,” “characters,” “mishaps/conflict” and “quirks.” They then choose a random prop or costume from the prop department, supplied and manned by Cathy Wilson of Chameleon Custom Apparel, to incorporate into their play.