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One-act plays dominate community theater festivals

Two Montgomery County community theaters will offer multi-week festivals of one-act plays this summer, featuring characters such as a lonely woman at a bar and a former U.S. president (in separate works).

The Montgomery Playhouse, which describes itself as “Montgomery County’s Oldest Community Theater,” will present its festival consisting of seven plays at Commotion Fitness Studios in Germantown, a new venue for the company. The plays will take place on the last two weekends of July.

“The short story format has always appealed to me,” said David Jones, executive producer of the festival, who has produced the festival 15 out of the past 16 years. Jones has been a member of Montgomery Playhouse since performing in his first production with them in 1992 and is a past president of the organization. “I like to let the directors choose their own shows and I love the wide variety of talent that shows up, both on the directing side and the acting side. We decided to go with all original works this year and each of the plays has something to offer,” Jones said. Until recently, Montgomery Playhouse had presented its festival at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn, but the space was no longer available, Jones said.

“Presenting at Commotion Fitness is a new venture for us, but hopefully it will be interesting,” Jones said.

 Anne Rogers VanDercook, who has been involved with Montgomery Playhouse since 2012, is directing one play and starring in another, both of which will be featured in the festival’s first weekend.

 She is directing “20 Questions,” in which a recently-deceased young man receives the opportunity to ask a series of questions about his life before progressing to the afterlife. She will perform in “Two Drink Minimum” as a lonely woman in a bar on New Year’s Eve who finds herself in the middle of a duel between a demonic bartender and an angel who quotes classic rock songs.

“Two shows is a lot of work, but both the casts are great,” VanDercook said. “I’ve gotten a look at the other casts, too, and I’m really excited to see how everything turns out.”

 Showtimes for the festival are Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., both weekends. Tickets and additional information are available at www.montgomeryplayhouse.org. A second theater company, Silver Spring Stage, will present 14 plays over three weekends from August 10 to August 27 at its theater on Colesville Road in Silver Spring.

“Our first weekend will be scripts by playwrights who have worked with us before who have gone on to win other competitions,” said Seth Ghitelman, a board member of Silver Spring Stage and coproducer of the one-act festival.

The other two weekends feature original scripts.

“We selected 10 from about 300 submissions and they vary greatly in length and subject,” Ghitelman said. “One is an imagining of a conversation between Amelia Earhart and her navigator after crash-landing in the Pacific, which is unexpectedly topical.”

Photographic evidence was recently uncovered has indicated that the famed pilot may have been captured by the Japanese and not lost at sea, as had long been believed.

“The festival brings in a lot of new people and gives people a chance to try something new, particularly actors who want to direct,” Ghitelman said.

One actor said participating in the festival is refreshing.

“After taking a break from acting for a few years, the Silver Spring One Act festival is a great reminder as to why I love this art so much,” said local actor Adam R. Adkins, who appeared in the 2013 one-act festival. He has performed in and directed other productions for the company. “They’re a great group of people to work with and bringing new, original works to life is incredibly rewarding,” Adkins said. Adkins is performing in two plays the second weekend of the festival, including “Alternate Theory,” by Maryland playwright Brian M. Doyle. This script features a new theory on the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy, presented by Kennedy himself.

Showtimes of the Silver Spring Stage will be Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. followed by 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday all three weekends.

The August festival will be the first production of Silver Spring Stage’s 50th anniversary season, Ghitelman said. The season will feature one play from each decade of the company’s existence and that the board has endeavored to choose plays representative of their time. More information is available at www.ssstage.org.

@petersrouleau

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