One-act plays bring beach to Vortex - Albuquerque Journal

One-act plays bring beach to Vortex

From left, Hannah Colver, Michael Weppler and Francesca Tharpe portray nine different characters in a trio of one-act plays at The Vortex Theatre.
From left, Hannah Colver, Michael Weppler and Francesca Tharpe portray nine different characters in a trio of one-act plays at The Vortex Theatre.

Three young directors mentored by Albuquerque directing teacher Lee Kitts get a chance to shine in the Next Generation Project’s upcoming presentation of “By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea” at the Vortex Theatre.

Playwrights Joe Pintauro, Lanford Wilson and Terrence McNally wrote one-act plays that form this collection of stories taking place on the same beach at different times of the day with different characters.

The opening piece is “Pintauro’s Dawn,” which is directed by Paul Hunton. Quentin, his sister Veronica and wife Pat are gathered at the water’s edge to scatter their mother’s ashes. This act brings a sense of closure to the characters but also stirs up old conflicts between them.

“Wilson’s Day,” directed by Jennifer Loli, takes a playful look at local gardener Ace, who is trying to eat his lunch in peace. Macy, a sexually tantalizing yuppie carrying a laptop and chic beach umbrella, cajoles Ace into applying her tanning lotion right before Ace’s girlfriend Bill shows up.

“McNally’s Dusk,” directed by Isaac Christie, focuses on a hunky beach jogger named Willy and two women, Dana and Marsha, who desperately vie for his attention.

Instead of casting nine actors, the directors decided to work with three actors who portray the nine different roles between the three plays.

“We had quite a few auditions over a two-day period,” said Kitts. “The directors got together to select Michael Weppler, who plays Quentin, Ace and Willy, Francesca Tharpe, who portrays Veronica, Mace and Marsha, and Hannah Colver, who assumes the roles of Pat, Bill and Dana.”

Kitts, who teaches at Sol Acting Academy and also offers lessons in her private studio, has worked with the three directors for between three to six years. She asked them to read what she calls her “directing bible,” “A Sense of Direction” by William Ball, before they started working on their plays. A rehearsal schedule was set up for each director. While Kitts kept an eye on their progress and periodically offered feedback, she maintained a low profile so they felt they could make their own directorial decisions.

“All these directors have both chutzpah and good people skills,” said Kitts. “I knew they would be terrific from the beginning when all of them were so excited about this opportunity. Each one of them has what it takes to be a good director.”

The Vortex is showcasing a new set for the production. While Kitts’ request that the entire theater be filled with sand and was gently turned down, there is sand on the set.

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