Box Offices or Briefs?
Those of us who go to the dentist more often than we get to the theater should thank Cameron Harrisfor Brief Encounters: A One-Act Festival. Harris reads scripts like other people devour novels, and she's chosen six easy-to-digest short plays for the fest. The great thing about watching a series of one-acts, she says, is that "if you don't like one thing, wait five minutes and the play will change."
Harris founded Brief Encounters several years ago, when she worked at the Lake Worth Playhouse. The festival took a hiatus when she moved over to the Delray Beach Playhouse, where she now works as the box office manager and sometimes directs. The art of writing a one-act play, she says, "allows an author to be freer with their craft, with their imagination." She admires "how they can get an idea across in a short period of time." Still, one-acts are rarely brought to the stage. "It's a rather unexplored art form."
This weekend's bill includes three short plays by contemporary humorist Christopher Durand. "He has a bizarre sense of humor," Harris says. Durand wrote the monologue called Mrs. Sorken specifically to introduce a set of one-act plays. His DMV Tyrant is a "sendup of a human experience we've all come to fear," and his Funeral Parlor was written as a skit for the Carol Burnett Show; Robin Williams won an Emmy performing it.
Three other shorts follow -- Autumn Leaves, a drama about two sisters who reunite at the Vietnam War Memorial and discuss their lost brother; Wanted: One Groom, a funny take on dating; and Encore for a Diva, an original piece written and acted by local author Robert Harless.
South Florida's writers, actors, and directors, Harris says, are a small but varied group. "The youngest," Harris says, "I'm not sure if she's even 18 yet. And the oldest is probably in his 60s." Harless is a hairdresser by day. Paula Sackett, wife of TV news anchor Jim Sackett, is featured in Encore for a Diva. Actor Adam Crowe has never been in a show before, Harris says, "But he's going to be great."
For Brief Encounters, "Each director was responsible for their own show -- casting, set pieces, etc. It gives them a wider view of what it takes to put on a play." Speaking of developing empathy, Harris says she tried acting once. The New Times reviewer, she recalls, "said I was good but called me gelatinous. Shortly after that, I had a gastric bypass," she says. "I will never act again -- not because of that but because acting was so hard." Alas, the hardest job, says Harris, who's moving to Connecticut after the festival, is in the ticket booth. "I'm 100 percent sure I will not be working box office again in my life. I'll get back my sanity."
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