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Lost & Found Items at 2011 Source Festival

The Dresser suffered a well-I-never moment June 18, 2011, when she attended the Source Festival's "Lost & Found" segment of its 10-minute plays. The Festival producers failed to get on stage Eric Pfeffinger's The Truth about Tiny Tim, the sixth and final play of a set called "Lost & Found." The Source representative would only say that conflicts happen when you have a festival that is so tightly scheduled.


Hello? Was there a discount offered if a person attending this performance wanted to see The Truth about Tiny Tim? None that the Dresser heard about. What she did hear was Christmas music as she filed out of the theater somewhat stunned. Was this part of the theater experience? Would Tiny Tim jump out at us in the lobby? After all, when the audience arrived to find their seats, it was apparent that there was an actor sitting in the front row of the three-sided seating arrangement. This black-bearded man in a 19th century suit clenched a curved pipe in his mouth. More on this shortly. Later, the Dresser was resoundingly surprised to see three women dressed in exactly the same outfit sitting one each in sections 1, 2, and 3 of the audience bleachers. More on this too. Never fear, knowing that there were actors in the audience is unlikely to ruin the experience of seeing either of these plays with which these characters are associated.


All presented before the intermission, Principles of Dramatic Writing by Steve Moulds, Jou Eat Vhat Jou Are by Matthew Ivan Bennett, and Language Monkey by Juanita Rockwell share a playwrighting approach in common--in some fashion, these plays deconstructed language.

Principles of Dramatic Writing deals with a precocious young student writer who gets to study with her literary idol only to discover all too soon that he is more interested in putting the moves on than teaching her. Little by little she pares down what he says and ends up laughing in his face. What made this short play vibrant was that Carina Czipoth made Zoe, an alternately naïve and worldly character full of sparkle and spit.

Source Festival 10-Minute Play Jou Eat Vhat Jou Are. Photo by C. Stanley PhotographySm.jpgJou Eat Vhat Jou Are is most notable for its costumes. Director Natsu Onoda Power does a good job with visual imagery--Pig's Feet (Daniel Mori) wears a shocking pink head-to-toe body-stocking, including pink belt and goggles, Jung (Michael Rodriguez is Carl Jung, the pipe-smoking character met in the audience) is the language deconstructor who presumably gives us the broken-English title of the play, Eater (Mikey Cafarelli) is the bare-chested barbarian, and Stage Directions (Jacob Yeh) is as his name suggestions, the manager of the play who continuously chomps crispy pork rinds. The dialogue is barely understandable and, most likely, mere annoying banality if one were tuned into the words. With its kitsch pig puppet show, knife thrusts, and bumbling Dr. Jung, it makes for a chaotic 21st century burlesque.

Language Monkey goes for a serious but irreverent dramatic line. The piece deals with three grownup siblings gathered at their mother's coffin. Mom (played by Amy Thompson, Marilyn Bennett, and Martha Karl, yes these are the three women dressed in the same outfit sitting in the audience) is the topic of conversation and she is the person who cautions her daughter Delia (Lisa Hodsoll) to watch her language. Monkey is Mom's name of endearment for Delia. It is hard to say why the playwright divides Mom into three players. If Ms. Rockwell meant to have a different version of Mom for Delia and each of her two brothers, that did not come across.Source Festival 10-Minute Play Language Monkey. Photo by C. Stanley Photography. (3)Sm.jpg If the playwright meant to create a larger than life character that was the sum of the three voices playing Mom, that also did not come across. Yet, the Dresser found the sum total of the 10-minute play moving. Maybe it had something to do with the siblings writing off how Mom could not tell a proper joke. "Who needs the set up? It's all in the punch line."


Without having seen all three plays, it is hard for the Dresser to know what the producers had in mind for the second half of "Lost & Found." If she were to guess, it would be something along this line of thinking--things are not what they seem. The Two Ufologists by Nicholas Gray is a case of frustrated love. T (Raven Bonniwell) is clearly hung up on Eli (Luke Cieslewicz). Eli is passionate only about his desire to see UFOs and the aliens that come with those spaceships. One is never sure why T would put up with such an insensitive clod as Eli. Is it possible that he is the only man left on Earth? Is T an alien? Probably none of the above. The Dresser thinks Director Timmy Metzner allowed too long an unanimated silence at the opening of the play when that time could have been used to establish some kind of body language addressing the question of aliens or love sickness.Source Festival 10-Minute Play The Two Ufologists. Photo by C. Stanley PhotographySm.jpg

Sasquatch and the Man by Eric Appleton contained what the Dresser would call highbrow monologues by a character called John Elston (Michael Hammond). It seems Elston is being pursued through the suburbs by Sasquatch. Sasquatch (R. Michael Oliver) is by far the more appealing character but don't expect a rational answer why from the Dresser. Maybe it was because she liked the costume Sasquatch wore or maybe it was because his sound track was earthy. SasquatchCroppedSm.jpgDisconcerting was that two more characters show up late in this piece and the play clearly exceeded its 10-minute contract. (More on that issue from The Dressing under What Mattered at the first Dramatists Guild Conference.)

Ruth Moon Kempher in her poem "Fare" could easily turn the situation she depicts into a 10-minute play. Kempher doesn't need aliens, Sasquatch, or Carl Jung to ratchet up the dramatic tension in the exchange between her narrator and the voice that speaks like a cabdriver. "What have you done with life," the cabbie voice asks. The Dresser thinks the same question could be asked in various ways to the playwrights and directors of "Lost & Found."


When this voice like a cabdriver's said
hey lady, what have you done with life?
she looked all over, especially in her
purse, pulling out crumpled Kleenex &
a dozen or so small flakes of tobacco
finding three shades of lipstick, but
still, it was lost.
................................Not under the
cushions, or in the dust behind, so she
finally said I'm sorry I can't seem to
and the voice said mildly I'm sorry too
because we don't have a budget plan, dear
and sobbing a little she said what'll I
and the voice said nothing, of course.

by Ruth Moon Kempher
from Visions & Aspirations of Sister Hilda H.

Copyright © 2010 Ruth Moon Kempher

Photo Credits:
C. Stanley Photography
Source Festival blog (Sasquatch)


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