NOTES by Claudia Potamkin
This Weekend’s Last Run of the Summer Shorts Series
Alan Fein, Jake Fein, Susie Westfall and author Claudia PotamkinIt’s the last chance to see Summer Shorts, a seasonal and curated collection of playlets at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing arts. In its 24th year, the 2019 program contains eight playlets – short plays lasting ten minutes -- including two musicals sweeping in theme between abstract, fantastical, culturally significant, poignant and uproariously funny, expertly rendered under the Artistic Direction of Margaret Ledford.
While most of us are familiar with the long play form you’d find in a 2 hour theatre production, split in two by an intermission, the short play genre, championed nationwide by our own City Theatre, affords audiences the chance to indulge in a theatrical buffet rather than one main course.
Pinpointing the right material is a key factor in curating a first-rate production; so much so that City Theatre created its namesake and highly reputed National Award for short playwriting in 2016. Established playwrights and promising standouts from throughout the U.S. are granted multiple educational and professional opportunities through CityTheatre’s extensive programming and winners will showcase their work.
Susie Westfall is the literary Director of City Theatre and a founding member along with Stephanie Norman and Elena Wohl of the roundtable of three who launched Summer Shorts in a conversation around a kitchen table in 1996.
“We were convinced we could pull off a short play festival but how to pay for it was the riddle,” says Westfall, who ultimately launched with a golf tournament to raise funds.
Today, Westfall commands the only theater in the country to focus solely on the short play, giving the company eminent esteem. “I am often asked to curate other short play productions and I'm thrilled to be recognized as the best at what we do,” says Westfall. When asked about her goals for City Theatre Westfall enthuses about the future. “Today’s steaming platforms want content and City Theatre’s got it with over 1,000 plays that we’ve produced. The visibility of a platform to show the work to greater audiences is very exciting”.
Summer Shorts runs through June 23rd at The Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theatre (which was renamed the Susan Westfall Playwrights Stage in 2014, commemorating Westfalls contributions to South Florida theater).