The Fremocentrist.com Art Inventory

SOAP Fest: A Labor Of Love Now In Fremont

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 28 May 2014

 

A production meeting for SOAP Fest - the one-act play festival organized by members of the Sandbox Artists Collective.  Photo provided by SOAP Fest

A production meeting for SOAP Fest – the one-act play festival organized by members of the Sandbox Artists Collective. Photo provided by SOAP Fest

For five performances only, June 4 – 8, the Sandbox Artists Collective members will offer a brief opportunity for audiences to enjoy the Sandbox One-Act Play (SOAP) Festival.  This evening features four creative, short plays written by local playwrights, directed by experienced theater directors, and performed by talented, professional, local actors.  The quality of this production demands attention, and the limited nature of the run will send the wise straight to Brown Paper Tickets to a reserve a seat now.

From ‘A Little Cog’…

“This is a short engagement, that really packs a punch,” Amy Love observed.  Love initiated the SOAP Festival which had its start last year, over three nights, at the Erickson Theatre.  “We had full houses for all three nights,” she reported, and this year, as they moved SOAP to Fremont – and West of Lenin (WoL) – they expanded the Festival to five nights for the smaller venue.

“I would say, get your tickets soon,” Love advised.  Tickets guarantee you a seat, and at $18 per person, they are a bargain.  “I love this space for the intimacy of it,” Love said of WoL, “and these are intimate plays.  They are short stories – not partial stories but complete stories.”

sandbox_2014_poster_preview_v21The plays – ‘The Tyrant’ by Yussef El Guidi (directed by Anita Montgomery,) ‘Things To Say When It’s Too Late To Say Them, aka Proof You Were Here’ by Brendan Healy (directed by Peter Dylan O’Connor,) ‘il’ by K. Brian Neel (directed by Annie Lareau,) and ‘Cumulus’ by Juliet Waller Pruzan (directed by Rachel Katz Carey) – were written and directed by members of the Sandbox Collective, a professional, membership based, mutually supportive arts organization.

SOAP is kept short, and in June when many theaters end their seasons, to avoid scheduling conflicts for Sandbox members.  “Everyone in the Collective is really busy with their own projects,” Love said of the 105 Sandbox members who act, direct, produce and/or design professionally throughout the year.  “It is big that the Collective members are making the time for this,” she acknowledged, and more weeks, or more plays, could make it difficult for Collective members to volunteer, but also, Love admitted, “I really like the size it is.  It takes nine months to put together.”

Love, Liza Comtois, and a whole team of volunteer playwrights, designers, actors, directors, and crew from throughout Seattle theater work hard to make this Festival a reality.  “Half of them are Sandbox-ers, and half of them are not Sandbox-ers,” according to Love, a Sandbox-er since 2010.

Sandbox Collective “is a collective,” Love explained, “not a producing organization.”  Sandbox brings together artists from the entire spectrum of theater, to share, mentor, support and collaborate with one another.

Through the Collective, these artists can organize projects they feel passionate about, like SOAP and the first Sandbox Collective member project – Sandbox Radio Live, launched by Leslie Law.  “Leslie Law set the precedent,” Love credited, “she made the template, and from that I felt courage enough,” to say a play festival could be organized among Sandbox volunteers, “but I’m just the little cog that started it.”

…‘A Living Thing’ Is Created

The playwrights providing material for the 2014 SOAP Fest (l to r) Yussef El Guindi, Juliet Waller Pruzan, K. Brian Neel, and Brendan Healy.  Photo by Ann-Margaret Johnson of Sassafras Photos

The playwrights providing material for the 2014 SOAP Fest (l to r) Yussef El Guindi, Juliet Waller Pruzan, K. Brian Neel, and Brendan Healy. Photo by Ann-Margaret Johnson of Sassafras Photos

“It involves lots of people,” explained Love about SOAP.  Love came to Seattle, with her husband and children, from New York.  There she worked on the Marathon Of One-Act Plays produced by the Ensemble Studio Theater, a festival she found both fun and creatively inspiring.  When Love got involved in Seattle theater, and Sandbox, she thought a play festival here, “was something that this Collective would be perfect for.”

The first step to bringing the Festival to Fremont involved a call for submissions from Collective members last Fall.  Members were asked to submit short plays anonymously – to level the playing field for those members looking to break into writing – with the final four works selected “purely by the story on the page,” according to Love.  A blind jury read the submissions, and picked those they most wanted to see performed.  “There would be no festival without the playwrights,” Love observed, “we are so lucky to have these playwrights locally.”

The jury did, when selecting the final four, look at the combination and line-up.  The works being presented at SOAP this year are diverse in topic, cast, and point of view, but they flow together to form a full (but not over-packed) two-hour evening of engaging entertainment.

SOAP Fest Coordinator Amy Love celebrating the 2013 Festival.  Photo by John Ulman

SOAP Fest Coordinator Amy Love celebrating the 2013 Festival. Photo by John Ulman

Once selected, the playwrights chose their directors, and then cast the pieces based on talent and availability of the actors.  “Of course, we want to have Collective members wherever possible,” Love said of casting, “but we also want to work with other, emerging artists.”  The playwrights and directors of all four plays at SOAP are Sandbox members, but the cast is more of a mix.

As for the set, Scenic Designer Dan Shuy, another member of Sandbox, had the difficult task of designing for four diverse works.  Love praised his accomplishment as, “a multi-purpose set that can be transformed.”

That is the power of the Sandbox Collective.  According to Love, the Collective gathers, “artists with really different skill sets that support each other so that these creative endeavors can come to life.  There is no way SOAP Fest could happen without the participation of the 37 specific people involved.  There are so many Sandbox-ers that support and contribute.  This is one huge group endeavor.”

Love can’t say enough about all the work, energy and creativity that this army of volunteers poured into SOAP.  “It became this living thing,” she said of her original idea, “that everyone just jumped on board.”

Go see the Sandbox One-Act Play Festival at WoL while you can.  The company only get paid through ticket sales, so encourage all who love live theater – and want to see more opportunities for creative, fringe theater like SOAP – to go to Brown Paper Tickets and save themselves a seat, now!  Next week will be too late…

 

 


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©2014 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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