The arrival of June means the return of “Summer Shorts,” but come December for Miami theatergoers, “Winter Shorts” carves out its own niche.
This year’s third edition of “Winter Shorts,” a packed evening of seven new, original plays, officially opens Saturday night in a bid to attract theatergoers looking for a respite from holiday shopping.
“These short plays aren’t very demanding - each has its own life - so you’re not tasked with having to remember details for two hours. You get in, laugh for a little while, and get out,” says Margaret M. Ledford, artistic director of City Theatre, which bills itself as "the only theater company in the United States solely dedicated to developing and producing ten-minute plays year 'round for all ages."
The plays showcase members of South Florida’s acting community, and some of the works are written by local playwrights as well. This year’s fare includes “Hapless Disciples,” by Jessica Farr, which is getting its world premiere.
“I’m honored that my play is being produced by City Theatre,” says Farr, noting that, with it, her career has come full-circle, as, when she was 15, she nabbed a spot as a literary intern with the company years ago.
Farr, who wears a number of hats in the local theater community -including as an actor, director and grant writer - has been penning plays since she was a teenager. Her plays have been produced before, including for “Short Cuts,” City Theatre’s programs for children.
“Hapless Disciples” focuses on two friends, Sarah and Kelly, who smoke, drink and share secrets about raising kids and motherhood, while waiting for their entrance during a nativity play.
“My art is centered around women and motherhood because I enjoy hearing them talk about their fears and thoughts about having children,” says Farr.
Another play of note is Steve Yockey’s “Everything that Happened Before that Terrible Holiday Sweater Party,” which the theater company commissioned, and is also a world premiere, says Ledford.
Yockey is a Los Angeles-based award-winning playwright whose work has been produced throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. He also contributes issues to the Zenescope comic book series “Grimm Tales of Terror” and writes for MTV's “Scream” and CW's “Supernatural.”
“Steve Yockey is such a clever, witty, and concise writer who knows how to make a play turn in unexpected ways without compromising the humor, characters or integrity of the world of the play,” Ledford adds.
Unlike the plays "Summer Shorts," which share no particular theme, the "Winter Shorts" fare all focus on the holidays, says Ledford.
Also, as the themes are described as “naughty and nice,” the evening is geared for playgoers age 16 and over, Ledyard notes. (On Dec. 15, parents can drop off their children for a cultural program for kids while they see the play in the afternoon or evening).
The plays feature a cast of familiar South Florida actors, who all play multiple roles throughout the evening. This year’s cast includes Alex Alvarez, Dave Corey, Diane Garle, Jovan Jacobs, Daryl Patrice, and Irene Adjan.
Says Ledford, “My favorite moment comes at the end when the cast comes out and the audience can’t believe it was only six people."
The plays of "Winter Shorts 2018":
“Hapless Disciples”by Jessica Farr - World Premiere
Bored old friends Sarah and Kelly wait for their entrance during the annual El Paso Nativity Pageant at St. Mary Magdalene's School for Girls. While Mary prepares to give birth to Baby Jesus, they share smokes, swigs, and secrets about raising kids and motherhood.
“Fulfillment Center” by Jeanette Farr (no relation to Jessica, just coincidence) – World Premiere
The stress of the holidays reaches new heights where workers at a fulfillment center are under pressure to make their numbers on deadline. But free-spirited, Baby Boomer Mimi is dozing off in a pile of packing peanuts, and challenging her perky millennial manager Alex, who is pushing her to the end of her rope.
“Everything that Happened Before that Terrible Holiday Sweater Party” by Steve Yockey – World Premiere, City Theatre Commission
Sally deeply loathes the holidays. And she's running late. So aggressive carolers, missing fruitcakes, her bizarrely cheerful husband, and a truly awful reindeer sweater are all on the list of things she didn't need tonight.
“A Very Special Hanukkah Special” by Mark Harvey Levine– Southeastern Premiere
In a mash up of every holiday TV special, Maury Baum wishes for Hanukkah to be just as widely celebrated as Christmas. With a little holiday magic, he gets his wish – with hilarious consequences!
“Oh, Tannenbaum” by Mark Harvey Levine – Southeastern Premiere
Leibowitz thinks it’s pretty weird to have a Christmas Tree in his house. The tree thinks it’s pretty weird, too.
“Talking Points” by Steven Hayet – Southeastern Premiere
During his family’s Thanksgiving dinner, Mike interrupts the festivities to hold a press conference announcing some unexpected news.
“Mama’s Eggnog “by Angela Stern –Southeastern Premiere
Celebrating their first Christmas without mom, siblings Dallas, Belinda, and Kourtney bicker, wrap, and sip her famous eggnog – served with a twist!
“Winter Shorts” is performed Dec. 8-23 at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla., 33139. Tickets are $39 to $69 and can be purchased by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at www.arshtcenter.org.