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Summerplay 2016

The 14th annual one-act play festival brings 10 new works from around the country

The 14th annual one-act play showcase returns to TMP. Photo credit: The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest

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Established theater companies aren't always interested in taking risks when it comes to selecting plays to produce. Thankfully, playhouses in the South Sound have been taking steps over the past few years to change this, to step out of their comfort zones and put new and exciting works on their feet. This desire for experimentation is apparent in Summerplay: A Festival of New Works, which now enters its 14th year.

The festival, which assembles a variety of one-act plays, began its life in a black box in Bremerton, presented by the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest. For the past three years, though, Summerplay made its home in Tacoma, starting at Tacoma Little Theatre in 2014, and moving to Tacoma Musical Playhouse last year, and for this year's upcoming edition.

A grand total of 117 one-act plays from all over the U.S. and Canada were submitted in the narrow window of just two weeks. Out of those, 10 were selected, almost all of which will be making their world premieres at TMP beginning Aug. 20. The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest's artistic director, Pavlina Morris, and board member, Karen Hauser, will be sharing directing duties, and each performance will feature all 10 short, diverse plays: The Birthday Present, by Seattle's own Suzanne Bailie; Wallaroo, the Goldfish, by Nancy Gall-Clayton; It Never Happened, by Darren Hembd; Waiting for the Witch, by David Brendan Hopes; Our Ten, by Mark Harvey Levine; Pop Star, by David MacGregor; Goat, by Scott Mullen; Our Ten, by Mark Harvey Levine; Friendship Kiss, by D. Richard Tucker; and Hold Me Tonight, by Michael Weems.

Filling out the cast for all 10 plays at Summerplay 2016 is an ensemble made up of local theater ringers, including Shawna Fancher, Lauren Gallup, Skye Gibbs, Sean Kilen, Jenny Kindschy, Dan Lysne, Susan Moblo, Tamara Nelson, Chelsea Pedro, Mark Peters, and Tom West.

While not much is known about the plays being featured, there's something undeniably exhilarating about going in cold to a collection of brand new works - and the one-act structure of the plays ensures that, even if one play is not to your taste, you don't have long to wait until the next one starts. Though, given the enormous pool of submissions the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest had to choose from, I think it's safe to say that the quality of these plays should be pretty high.

Summerplay: A Festival of New Works, Aug. 20-21, 27-28, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m., $18, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6867,

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