Firehouse New Works Fest features Westford playwright’s short plays

Posted on January 27, 2021 by

Ready for some at-home entertainment to wind down with this weekend as January ends and February lurks next week? 

  Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport is back with its 19th New Works Festival, The Long and the Short of It for three nights of original theater Friday-Sunday, January 29-31. And it features two short plays by local playwright and Westford resident Michael Towers being performed on Saturday evening.

Taking place virtually this Friday-Sunday

  “While we would love to have you in our theater, it’s just not in the cards this year. But the festival lives on,” notes Firehouse in its splashy announcement.

  Featured are Firehouse acting favorites like Maureen Daley, Jennifer Wilson, Steven Sacks, Pamela Battin-Sacks, Terry Blanchard and Ella Faria, along with directors David Houlden, Anne Easter-Smith and Abigail Seabrook.

  Over the past 18 years, more than 200 new works have been performed on the Firehouse stage in the New Works Festival, which fosters the growth of New England playwrights and showcases the talents of local and regional actors and directors. 

  Playwrights from all over New England submit 10-minute shorts, one-act and full-length plays to an independent panel who select the festival shows in anonymous readings. Directors and casts then work with the selected playwrights to produce the festival.

  Firehouse is doing something different this year. After Saturday’s Evening of Shorts, attendees will receive a short survey allowing them to vote for their favorites. The Top 4 will get a second showing following the One Act on Sunday, January 31.

  The Festival starts Friday with “Hitch,” a full-length play by James McLindon at 8 p.m. Saturday’s Evening of Shorts, starting at 8 p.m., features two plays written by Towers, a Westford Academy grad and current director of the successful Westford Academy theatre arts program.  

  They include “Pole Position,” winner of the Honegger Prize for Best Short Play, and “Tut Tut.” Other shorts that evening include “A Missionary Zeal” by Charles Hertz; “The Wrong Taxi” by Charlene Donaghy; “Respect Your Elders” by Hope Shangle; “Reservations” by Steve Elmert and “The Handle” by Scott Sullivan.

  Sunday’s One-Act and Shorts starts at 7 p.m. with “The Rise of Jessie Bates” by Paul Antokolsky followed by the 4 top vote-getting shorts from the evening before.

  Tickets are $5 for one evening and $12 for all three nights. Visit https://www.firehouse.org/event/19th-annual-new-works-festival/ for tickets and info.

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In the wings 

MORE ON-LINE THEATRE OPPS: Boston-based Arts Emerson recently announced two new programs in its Year of Experimentation. “Down A Dark Stairwell,” a documentary film directed by Newton native Ursula Liang has its Boston premiere on Friday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. as part of ArtsEmerson’s Shared Stories Film Series. It will be followed by a live panel discussion with the director and moderated by Denise Khor of UMass Boston at 9 p.m. Both will be available for on-demand streaming through Sunday, February 7 at 10 p.m. 

Visit https://artsemerson.org/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=Dark-Stairwell&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id= for more info…Its Play Reading Book Club on Christiane Jatahy’s “Julia,” running February 9-22, will guide participants through a reading and study of August Strindberg’s 1899 play “Miss Julie,” which is the source inspiration for Jatahy’s hypnotic theatrical work. The PRBC will feature 6 online Zoom gatherings which will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays now through February 11. For info and to join the discussion, which is free, visit https://artsemerson.org/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=julia-prbc&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::context_id=. To purchase tickets to see the play on demand, February 9-22, visit www.artsemerson.org

At ArtsEmerson

AUDITIONS OVER: Online auditions are now closed for Cannon Theatre’s upcoming “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Jerry McMahon will direct the radio show by Douglas Adams. Stay tuned for the dates when it’s being produced. 

TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT: Huntington Theatre Company’s 2016 hit production of Mike Lew’s “Tiger Style” has been newly recorded as an audio play that will air in full on Saturday, February 6, 6-8 p.m. on WGBH 89.7 FM. It’s about squabbling siblings Albert and Jennifer Chen who reached the pinnacle of academic achievement as kids, but as adults are epic failures. It’s an hilarious comedy that examines race, parenting and success with hit and sharp humor. For a reminder email, sign up here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeSRE1SQD2NlqDlKjFS9j1W5to60wYixq96_t3wfNnosqx8XQ/viewform.

A new audio play of this Huntington Theatre hit airs next Saturday on WGBH-FM.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net  

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