News briefs. Short films. Short... sentences. After more than half a century of television imposed on the national attention span, we're only a few commercials away from needing CliffsNotes to watch full-length movies. While that's an obstacle for anyone hoping to create the next big Broadway play, it's a good way for independent playwrights to get a quickie into City Theatre's annual Summer Shorts Festival.
Now in its tenth year, Summer Shortsis back with a collection of 16 plays that rarely break the ten-minute mark. The featured playwrights include local up-and-comers and those with national recognition. One guy who's both local and established is Michael McKeever. In his play American Gothic, McKeever asks the question all inquiring minds want to know: What would happen if the woman in the famous Grant Wood painting up and left the farm? C'mon! You mean you never thought of that? Well, perhaps you can relate to Dream of Jeannie-by-the-Door, David Valdes Greenwood's cautionary tale of casino life and its financial perils. While Greenwood's play may not involve Gamblers Anonymous, the characters in Paul Rudnick's Pride & Joy embrace a different type of support group -- one for parents of gay or gay-curious children. For the heaviest dose of realism, though, check out Ryan Kelly's Steel Springs, which depicts the horrors faced by American soldiers in Iraq. Kelly wrote the play while serving in Tikrit, so he knows a thing or three about stepping around land mines. And speaking of stepping on things, there's Dogsh*t, a dark comedy about dog doo-doo written by New World School of the Arts student Andres Solorzano.
Don't worry -- Summer Shortswon't ruin your patience for longer stories. Just don't try to watch Magnolia when you get home.