This is only Funky Little Theater’s second season, but somehow the small company has emerged out of a struggling Templeton Gap strip mall as a creative force that cannot be ignored. Spectrum LGBT New Play Festival (hereafter Spectrum), proves that, politics aside, size does NOT matter. Funky’s Artistic Director Chris Medina had set his sights realistically low for Spectrum, hoping for as many as 30 submissions of short (10-minute) original scripts on an LGBT theme. Imagine Medina’s surprise. The scripts came pouring in ... from Colorado, Texas, Illinois, New York, California, as well as Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. By the deadline, 269 original scripts landed at Funky for Spectrum.
The end result is eight original, creative and engaging stories bursting off the stage. They run the gamut from silly to historical and to the truly tragic — a theatrical buffet done in scrumptious 10-minute bites.
A Monogamy of Swans, a drama by John Minigan, is set in Boston. Actors Haley Hunsaker and Kristen Gutzeit have suitable “Bahston” accents to transport us to the Boston Public Garden, where the question is whether to feed the swans or kill them. Broken hearts, broken dreams and betrayal dominate this tense yet tender tale.
On the sillier side, Seth Freeman’s The Authoress is a gender bender. If a new play competition is for “women and those identifying as a woman,” men enter at their own risk. Dylan McClintock plays the straight guy with a competitive compulsion to obliterate gender lines. McClintock walks the line between a confident but daring heterosexual and a closeted but flamboyant transvestite. It’s fair to say that he is very funny in both of his wardrobes.
Comedies aside, however, Spectrum peaks with three 10-minute dramas that have the potential to develop into full-length plays. The first of these, and perhaps the most striking, is A Place to Hide by Kenneth Johnson. Based on a true story and set in a 1950s small Texas town, Johnson has combined the contemporary issues of race, sex and police misbehavior into a breakout script. Melvin Greer, Danielle Trina, and Benji and Chris Dezaval act out Johnson’s script with honesty, fear and compelling emotion.
Erik Champney’s The Screens is a tragic love story told in exquisite detail. Bryan Dufaud and Benji Dezaval are the tragic lovers. Dufaud is particularly striking; he’s institutionalized with dementia. Dezaval is his heartbroken lover and caregiver who has all but lost his partner.
Tim Brennan’s Contrition is the last of the eight scripts to play out on the Funky stage, and it is arguably the best. It’s a love triangle, with Chris Medina and Michelle Pantle competing for their common lover/husband/partner. Contrition is an emotional mashup, combining, love, hate and loss in what seemed like the quickest and most emotional 10 minutes for Spectrum.
Funky had an embarrassment of riches land on them, and they made hard choices, leaving 261 scripts behind. The eight engaging Spectrum scripts they selected are winners for both the company and their audience.