By TAYLOR SMITH
Special to the Guide
Blake White, an associate producer with the South Carolina Repertory Company, said the company is traditionally “dark” during the summer months as travel plans often interfered with possible production schedules.
But this summer they made a commitment keep the stage lit.
“A Celebration of the Short Attention Span: An Evening of Short Plays” will run Thursday through Aug. 13 at the theater of Beach City Road.
The Hilton Head Performing Arts Studio, in residence at South Carolina Repertory Company will perform the 10- to 15-minute plays each evening at 8 p.m.
“We were originally looking at some full length plays and everyone’s schedules with jobs and vacations it just became a logistical nightmare to get everyone together for a long play,” White said.
With short plays, unlike even one-act plays, which are usually longer, White said the actors’ time commitment was less, and shorter rehearsal times made scheduling them more agreeable for everyone involved.
“This is also something that has not been done recently around here,” White said of short plays. “And it’s an opportunity to show brand new works.”
The festival includes plays by notable playwrights Christopher Durang and David Ives as well as lesser-known dramatists Sheldon Senek, David Graziano. Some of the evening’s play titles include “For Whom the Southern Bell Tolls” (a spoof of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie”), “Sure Thing,” “Words Words Words,” and “The Interrogation.”
“There will be seven plays on the night,” White said. “And if you get bored, just hold on for five minutes and there will be an entirely new cast, and an entirely new set coming around the corner.”
White said the short plays are also designed to cater to the modern audience-member’s notoriously small attention span.
“It’s sort of tongue and cheek, kind of like an elongated episode of ‘Saturday Night Live,’” White said of the evening of comedies. “But they aren’t sketches because these have more structure than that — each play has a beginning, middle and end.”
One of the challenges facing SCRC is the festival’s scene changes, White said. With a play ending every 10 to 15 minutes, he said the company is trying to make sure the audience doesn’t get bored during any of the six scene changes.
“It will likely involve music and lighting,” White said of the transitions.
White said this festival is one of the first times SCRC has taken full advantage of the talent in the area, where 15 actors and actresses will perform seven distinct productions in a two-hour period. The festival also features two directors, who recently graduated from Hilton Head High School, he said.
“What we hope is that this would become a tradition summer activity because it is fun for the actors and fun for anyone who comes out to see it,” White said.
The performances are free, however a $10 donation is encouraged. Details: 843-342-2057. www.hiltonheadtheatre.com