Seattle’s fringe theater scene suffered a major blow with closing of Empty Space and other mid-range venues in the early 2000s. But now, only in its second year, the Sandbox One-Act Play Festival offers the theater community a beacon of hope that seeks to become an institution like Seattle’s other great artistic festivals.
“What I love about (SOAP) is that every piece is a jewel,” says festival coordinator Amy Love. “Stylistically, conceptually, it’s just… whoa.”
The playwrights of SOAP Fest 2014 insist that the brilliance of the fest comes from the massive talent of the Sandbox Artist Collective. “I went to a reading in New York, and I got to say, I was more impressed with our talent here,” says SOAP 2014 playwright Youssef El Guindi.
The one-for-all-and-all-for-one mentality of Seattle theater has blossomed and given rise to an amazing collective of seasoned and emerging playwrights, directors, and thespians. “For a city of our size,” adds fellow playwright Brendan Healy, “I don’t think there is anybody out there like us. We are prolific.”
Here’s a preview of the four plays that comprise the 2014 Sandbox One-Act Play Festival.
The Tyrant by Yussef El Guindi
Inspired in part by the Arab Spring, a captured Middle Eastern president is given a platform to defend his actions and share his side of the story with the American public. El Guindi, who was born in Egypt, grew up in London, tackles Western-Middle Eastern relationships through the voice of one man, our presumed enemy. He raves about his leading actor, G. Valmont Thomas, “[A one-man play] is so dependent upon strength… When you find the right actor it is all worth it.” Directed by Anita Montgomery.
Things to Say When it is Too Late to Say Them aka Proof You Were Here by Brendan Healy
Coupling is chaos. Eric and Annalisa mark an atypical anniversary with mayhem (fighting, property damage, and even song) while airing their own dirty laundry. Healy, who has a wonderful penchant for character exploration and long titles (his The Final Tribunal into the Mysterious Death of Mister Senor Salvador Dali was performed in Seattle last year) probes the complexity of his characters under audacious limitations “I saw the time constraint [of a one-act] as a challenge” says Healy, with a bit of a smile on his face. Directed by Peter Dylan O’Connor.
iI by K. Brian Neel
Three young programmers make a startling discovery that could change the planet during a marathon hacking session. Interestingly enough, inspiration for the play came to Neel from Wired article. “It got me thinking about where I was at that age,” he says. “The pressure can destroy you.” Directed by Annie Lareau.
Cumulus by Juliet Waller Pruzan
Striking up a conversation with a stranger on a plane is commonplace, and it’s a situation ripe for dramatic exploration. The story of Cumulus unfolds during a flight from Seattle to Denver, as the strangers’ stories unfold both in the sky and on the ground below. “It’s based on an experience I had,” says Pruzan. “I find it interesting how we reveal things to strangers we wouldn’t otherwise outside of the circumstance we are in.” Directed by Rachel Katz Carey.