BWW Interviews: JOYCE STILSON FROM BUFFALO'S ALLEYWAY THEATRE

BWW Interviews: JOYCE STILSON FROM BUFFALO'S ALLEYWAY THEATRE

Alleyway Theatre's Buffalo Quickies is an annual festival of original one act plays that is celebrating its twenty-third year.

It's a time consuming, but very rewarding production effort headed by Alleyway Theatre's Associate Artistic Director Joyce Stilson.

March 27th is opening night and with only a few weeks away Broadwayword.com recently spoke to the pleasant Ms.Stilson about the festival.

How did the Alleyway Quickies come about?

"In 1990 Alleyway Theatre Executive Director Neal Radice founded the Maxim Mazumdar New Play competition and included a one act category. The vehicle to showcase these one acts became The Buffalo Festival of Short Works, later to be re-titled the more pithy moniker of BUFFALO QUICKIES. The Mazumdar New Play Competition allowed Alleyway to receive scripts from every state in the union and literally all over the world, including South Africa, Israel, Korea, England, France, Spain and many others."

Were you there from beginning? If not, who was and when did you join the productions?

"Yes, I started as the festival director from year one! For the first 6 years it was a true festival format with different programs on different evenings. One year we had 37 artists - you can imagine the amount of effort that went into scheduling, let alone fitting all those actors in our dressing rooms!"

How many years has it been going?

"This is our 23rd season."

What are some of the joys you get out of it?

BWW Interviews: JOYCE STILSON FROM BUFFALO'S ALLEYWAY THEATRE

"I adore reading all of the scripts that are submitted and especially relish my relationships with the past playwrights who have enjoyed their Alleyway experience so much that they continue to submit new works."

How challenging is this to do every year?

"I suppose the greatest challenge would be keeping an evening like this "fresh", but the very nature of one acts is that they typically play at a fast pace and the content is so different from year to year that it always feels new to me."

What is the time table for putting this event together? How soon do you start rehearsals? Selecting actors? Selecting Plays?

"It's a constant process. I already have scripts I am considering for next year and two playwrights that have promised me new works. Another playwright (2011 one act competition winner, LOVE, LIZA?) Anson Mount (a terrifically successful actor with a long list of film and stage credits, most notably as the lead in HELL ON WHEELS on AMC) has said he's working on a piece for next year's Quickies."

What's your process of selecting the material each year?

"There are so many variables that go into selections: theme, state of the script - as far as process, availability of actors, length, correlation to other pieces in the evening, new idea to the BQ canon of past one acts and doesn't repeat past themes, etc. In a lot ways it's like playing the Star Trek version of three level chess ... Btw I don't play chess."

What stands out to you when you read a play?

"Certainly, the theme of each play is important to me. Usually, if a play doesn't have a strong supporting theme it doesn't make it into the festival. Sometimes the entire festival will revolve around a central theme or related themes. This year's festival contains plays with themes that include: the challenge of making loving relationships survive; rekindling love and overcoming emotional wounds; making human connections in a forbidding world; our treatment of the disadvantaged; maintaining a conscience despite professional obstacles; the emphasis placed on children's academic performance; and the power of song lyrics on our popular culture."

Any advice you would give to a playwright submitting?

"Three things. First, proof read. Typos are more than annoying and textual errors such as misplaced character names, inconsistencies of time and place or violations of the plot structure are all indications that the playwright hasn't given enough time to script preparation or is simply inept. Second, stay true to your work by understanding what you're trying to say and what's important in its message. Third, be patient. We read over 600 scripts each year and it often takes a great deal of time to respond to all submissions."

What is it about the one act play that drives you?

"If I had to choose one element it would have to be the impact the festival has on actors. Our cast takes on roles in multiple plays throughout the evening of plays. Taking on several roles in one line up is a great challenge and one that actors don't often receive. The challenge as a director is to help find ways to differentiate among the characters while serving the various plays and keeping the actors from going crazy in the process."

Any particular favorite genre you enjoy directing more than others?

"That would be comedy. I feel that it's specialty. I also really enjoy a highly theatrical play style. In particular this year, I'M NOT SURE has been a lot of fun for me because it's absurdist style is something which audiences don't get to see too often."

Why would a Playwright submit to Alleyway's Quickies?

"They often tell us that it's because Alleyway puts the development of the script at the forefront of what we do. Our goal with full-length and one-act plays is to serve the play first. Alleyway recognizes that at its best, the process of playwriting includes the first production experience as a development tool to refine the text, the goal being to end with a fully completed script."

How important are the Alleyway Quickies to Buffalo Theater?

"I think extremely important. When Alleyway was faced with major cutbacks a few years ago, we were forced to withdraw Buffalo Quickies from the season. However, the response from our audience and from the local media was not to be ignored. The result was that several audience members came forward to assist with financial support, and the festival continued without interruption. Most notably, Jamey Quiram was our first audience member to step up and he is continuing his support for this year's Quickies."

The annual evening of one-act plays features world premieres of recent finalists and one-act winners of the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition.

A smorgasbord of tasty theatrical tidbits flavored with the spice of life!

Suitable for adults and teens.

23rd Annual One-Act Celebration. This year's productions include:

FOR A LOOP

by Donna Hoke

Parents want the best for their Kindergartner, even if it means doing their homework.

A world premiere.

WORKIN' ON THE RAILROAD

by Mark Harvey Levine

The old west didn't have much in the way of culture, so every song has extra meaning.

An area premiere.

SCAMMING

by David Muschell

Winner of the 2012 Mazumdar New Play Competition, One Act Category

Accidents happen and sometimes are planned.

A world premiere.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHIRLPOOL BOX

by Matt Boyle

How can you study society when people keep dropping out of it?

A world premiere.

THERAPY

by George J. Bryjak

Staying married for the long haul is a real challenge, so every couple needs to find a way to spice it up.

An area premiere.

I'M NOT SURE

by Mark C. LLoyd

To love or not to love... that is the... well, the question.

A world premiere.

ROSES ARE ...?

by Mark C. LLoyd

Poetry brought Constance and Billy together and apart and maybe back together again.

A world premiere.

The cast includes:

Darryl Hart, Jacquie Cherry, Patty Hannel, Tyler Brown and Michael Starzynski

The Show Dates:

March 27-April 19

Thursday at 7:30 PM

Friday at 7:30 PM

Saturday at 7:30 PM

General Admission = $25

Student (through college) = $13

Pay what you can night April 3

For more information on Alleyway Theatre please go to alleyway.com

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About Author

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Mark C. Lloyd Mark C. LLoyd is a published Poet and a produced Playwright who resides in Lockport, New York. As a Playwright, Director, board member and production consultant he has worked with many theater companies in the Buffalo, New York area. To date he has directed over two dozen of his own one-act plays.

In 2009 Mark won an award for Directing from the Theatre Association of New York State and in May of 2006he won the award for Writing "Hollywood Dreams-A Monologue”. He has been the featured reader and host at numerous Poetry events and has self-produced several artistic and theater productions.

His self-published Poetry chap book from 2010 “Warm Blooded Mornings” is still available for sale as well as his 2012 miniature book “It’s The Place You’llFind Me” by Destitute Press. In 2013 Mark's book “Unfinished Suite: Poetry & Prose” was released by No FrillsPublishing and was described as “… Lloyd has mastered the art of living in each moment. He captures and brilliantly documents the details of those moments that most take for granted, as if he sees the future and recognizes the fortune in front of him. He breathes life into every day human interactions.”

PresentlyMark is working on editing another book of Poetry, a Novella and two books of Plays as well as the possibility of Writing and Directing a few independent film projects.


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