The TiG Short Play Series is an effort to cover the various festivals, showcases, and groups producing short form theater in NYC, to highlight the many artists and producing models at work in independent theater. To learn more, click here for the introduction to the series.
What It Is
Produced by AMIOS Theater since 2009, SHOTZ! is an ongoing short play series that produces six original short plays on the first Monday of most months of the year, now at the Kraine Theater in the East Village. Unified by three conditions along a theme, all six plays are conceived, written, and staged in the month prior.
Founded by graduates of the now-defunct National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, SHOTZ! has grown into a roiling nebula of theater-makers, from fresh-faced artists coming up, to grizzled vets between stints on larger stages and screens. The short plays live up to the name, rarely running too long, delivering hour-long sample platters of theater at 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM showings. A highly advertised “free beer!” and post-show discount at the neighboring Gray Mare bar / restaurant make the $13 ticket ($15 at the door) a pretty solid starting place for a night out, even with the grab-bag nature of this “theatrical pressure cooker.”
Over the last few seasons, AMIOS has been expanding earlier SHOTZ! plays into a full-length reading series called — in keeping with the boozy convention — “First Draughts”. Winter 2018 will bring the first full production of one of these expanded scripts with Lizzie Vieh’s The Loneliest Number, to be directed by Maria Dizzia.
Keep reading for our impressions of the most recent show, and details about what’s coming up next!
We caught the recent SHOTZ! November 2017 show, Unicorns and Garbage Fires, a night of devised theater that seemed to promise a spectrum of the magical to the stinking awful. What we ended up getting was a delightfully varied and tight evening of theater, with some particular gems and few flat moments overall. Highlights included:
2 a.m., Day 29 (devised and performed by Franny Civitano, Logan Ford, and Leigh Williams*): This snapshot of friendship, goodbyes, and unsent texts moves with such natural ease and depth that the emotional eruption by Williams after only a few minutes of banter feels as supported as many full-length climaxes.
Dungeons and Dragons and Dating (writing: Fulvio*, directing: Rob Hille*, acting: Lynn Guerra, Steve Jones*): What begins and proceeds as a playful exploration of a “gamified” dating app within a fantasy realm pays off dramatically when worlds collide. An irreverent short play, or an excellent sketch? We’ll never know. (or care)
Katie Comes Home (writing: Christina Liang*, directing: Mario Gonzales, acting: Chase Bouchie, Aaron Kitchin, Erin Roché): You get a sense this group tried to set garbage on fire, but rode out on a unicorn. Following the secret yearning and tragedy of forgotten childhood toys, it’s a potent poetic snapshot that manages not to indulge in its stylistic treatment.
What is Shotz? (writing: Suzy Jane Hunt*, directing: Richard Thieriot*, acting: Peabo Evenson*, Michael Propster*): This was a fascinating and raw look at the SHOTZ! series itself, a mirror held up by longstanding members of the community, blurring the lines of fact and fiction for those of us looking in. With heart-rending vulnerability and hair-raising frankness that could only be rooted in some amount of truth, the performers grappled with their failure to “make it” in the industry (whatever that means), the predatory environment that can form within creative communities, and the ongoing struggle of SHOTZ! and indie theater at large for cultural relevancy.
This last point really stuck with us at TiG, and speaks to why we’re taking on something as ambitious and broad as the Short Play Series. These festivals have become active grounds of great work and talent, and the more attention they get will only strengthen independent theater as an increasingly viable and popular entertainment.
Live music pre-show and during intermission was also a nice touch to break up the evening; but had the plays run long, this might have felt superfluous. The Kraine is a bit of a madhouse at the box office and between showings, so be prepared for the queue — both shows can draw crowds.
What’s Coming Up
While you may not see the above plays again (unless they go on to be part of the First Draughts reading series), SHOTZ! is serving up an entirely new batch of short plays for December — this time, each play features live music, with original work by a collaborating composer.
Ghosts of Shotz Past
December 4th, 2017
The Kraine Theater
85 E. 4th St. NYC
$13 in Advance/$15 at the Door
Lyndsey Brown | Mor Cohen
Khalia Davis | Zach Eisenstat*
Elizabeth Erb | Courtney Esser*
Lynn Guerra*| Michael Hammond*
Natalie Hegg*| Jacqueline Jarrold*
Patrick Andrew Jones* | Sarah Kinsey*
Carmen LoBue | Kia Sayyadi
Christina Sebastian | David Rudi Utter*
& Lori Vega*
– H. S.
* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association