Plant City Entertainment hosted a 10-minute play festival last weekend, showing off local talent in quite a unique setup.
The devil has a flair for neon.
In a move unlike any seen in town before, Plant City Entertainment and the Tampa Bay Alliance of Community Theatres brought a 10-minute play festival to town.
Given no plots and no descriptions, the community theater was slowly filled as folks lined up to see what unique gems would be brought to life on stage.
The lights went out, a blacklight turned on and suddenly an Irish man named Billy Duffy in glowing neon yellow overalls appeared before us.
He was a blacksmith, as was evident by his shining anvil, and while he was a drunkard, he was also quite generous and would spend every cent he had with no hesitation. After one lively night at a nearby pub he found himself once again with empty pockets.
“By God, I would sell myself to the Devil if I could get a drink,” Duffy said.
Ask and ye shall receive. Another figure emerged from the darkness sporting a neon red hat and a florescent red nose. It was the Devil and he was there for Duffy’s soul.
Like so many fairytales “Billy Duffy and the Devil,” adapted and directed by Audrey Schmidt, blended riddles and morality with humor and wit. The duo struck up a deal and, using his wiles, Duffy was able to escape his fate time after time.
Eventually even the Devil called it quits and when Duffy had lived a long life, he found there was no place for him below or above. Instead his soul was turned into a will-o’-the-wisp and he wandered Earth for the rest of time.
The entire story played out in the allotted 10 minutes and was narrated and acted by PCHS Troupe 1449’s Theatre 1’s.
The lights came back on and the stage was cleared and reset as the next play, “Kintsugi,” was set to begin. This one was written and directed by Janel Stogdill.
Grief changes people, but the key to coming through the other side is to “search for the gold.”
A woman lost her son. While her husband was ready to move on and finish packing up the boxes of his toys and playthings she found herself unable to let go. They fought, as couples in mourning tend to do.
The audience discovered she was attending grief counseling and was looking for a pair of Mickey Ears she had purchased for her son on their first trip as a family to Disney World.
It was her happiest memory and she was to bring a token of that moment to the next session to share with the group.
The ears were gone. All she could find in its place was a photo of that magical day. With a heavy heart she went to counseling. Her husband refused to go.
While at the session the leader explained the art of Kintsugi. The Japanese repair broken pottery with gold, silver and platinum. Suddenly the broken item is even more valuable than before. He had asked everyone in the group to show up with their cherished items.
One woman shared the story of her deceased husband’s passion for fishing. Every chance he had he was on the water and though she hated the thought of bait and waking up before dawn one day she went too. The time she spent with him ended up being more fun than she could have ever expected. Clutching his favorite fishing hat she said she sometimes puts it on to feel closer to him.
A young girl fiddled with a music box her father had given her. He had asked her to dance and, in a bout of teen annoyance, she refused. He died shortly after and she lives every day with the regret. The counselor asked if she would give her dad the dance now, standing up and extending his hand. The music box was opened and the soft tunes of “When You Wish Upon A Star” slowly wafted out toward the audience.
With shaking hands and hesitant steps she was able to have that last dance with her father, even if it was only with his memory.
However, the lilting tune caused our protagonist to jump to her feet, cherished picture of her son at Disney held tight within her white knuckles. She couldn’t find her gold and with an apology and quite an emotional speech she turned to walk out the door. There, waiting, was her husband. Together they sought to find solace and the stage went dark.
The last play, “Antique for Sale,” was written and directed by Isabella Macchione. While shorter in length than the prior two it still offered many comedic bits for the audience.
A realtor led a hesitant and increasingly confused potential buyer around an obviously derelict home. A knob fell off a door, her leg plunged through the decaying floorboards and the hole in the roof made a “natural skylight.”
As things turned from bad to worse the realtor attempted to spin each issue as a unique aspect of the antique home. The door was a specialty “pop off edition,” the exorcism was successful — which has to stand for something, right? — and the lack of stairs meant you could practice your parkour skills to get to the second floor.
Unsurprisingly the buyer was not convinced and ultimately fled the scene, leaving the audience with a chuckle as the night came to a close. With their entrance ticket each audience member was given one vote for their favorite play. Additional votes could be purchased for $1 each and were tallied in the following days.
The concept of 10-minute plays is a great way to allow local theater enthusiasts to try their hand at bringing their own creation to life. Actors and writers of all ages and walks of life were on the stage Friday and Saturday night, showing that passion never truly wavers.
Hopefully, with the success of the inaugural event, PCE will consider bringing the experience back for audiences to enjoy time and again. For more information on PCE shows, visit pceshows.com.