Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Gorilla Theatre presents promising young playwrights' work

In his curtain speech introducing this year's edition of the Young Dramatists Project, James Rayfield advised audience members that they were about to witness "a look at what young people are thinking."

Rayfield, the dramaturge for this year's project, said young people often aren't thinking about the things grown-ups would like them to think about, and the project's collection of plays make those subjects sex, love, freedom and death.

But they're also thinking about live theater in sophisticated ways and finding inspiration in the creative process.

The Young Dramatists Project annually allows high school students to submit their original plays to Gorilla Theatre, and the troupe stages the best with professional actors, directors and designers.

This year's playwrights, Hannah Mribiha (Northeast High School), Isabella Menna (Shorecrest Prep), Sarah Cohen (Berkeley Prep), Jillian Boyar (Bloomingdale High) and Alex Gonzalez (Hillsborough High), did not offer the strongest collection. The dramas try too hard to be important (certainly a trap many of us fell into at that time of our lives) and the one comedic piece just isn't clever enough.

But each piece has moments of startling insight or inventiveness. At the very least, they're all interesting early steps by promising playwrights.

Mribiha offers perhaps the most successful drama in this year's production. Icarus presents a variant on the familiar Greek parable, with Daedalus and Icarus escaping from a modern-day prison. It's interesting, but needs to be fleshed out. The characters, relationships and plot lurch along because they don't have time to develop gracefully.

Menna's It's in the Way You Heal tries desperately to be weird and semi-absurdist. It starts to become dry, but then it delivers a thought-provoking twist that makes the piece succeed.

Full Arc, by Cohen, feels like an early draft of a fascinating play. A teenage schizophrenic finds salvation through art. Cohen shows that she has genuine ideas, and the piece benefits from wonderful lighting effects by Megan Byrne and Eric Haak. But Cohen hasn't yet developed the mastery of dialogue that would bring her characters to life.

Boyar's A Room With Two People starts with a familiar absurdist premise — strangers who find themselves in an unfamiliar and inescapable place — but turns into a slight but provocative examination of guilt and redemption.

The one comedy is Alex Gonzalez's No Fap February. In a short video that precedes the piece, Gonzalez says he wanted to create raunchy comedy with a heart. He achieved the raunch and the heart, but not the comedy. His play, which blatantly borrows its plot from a Seinfeld episode, simply isn't funny. Gonzalez acts in his own piece and has enormous confidence and great appeal as an actor. He's very funny in that short taped piece, but his play doesn't evoke many laughs from the audience. (Teen audiences may find it funnier; it's inappropriate for anyone younger than that.)

How much someone enjoys this year's Young Dramatists Project depends largely on why he or she goes. Anyone looking for entertainment or enlightenment may be moderately disappointed; these young people just don't have the honed skills to deliver that yet.

But if it's approached as a look at early work of five fresh and burgeoning playwrights, it's a total success.

Marty Clear specializes in the performing arts. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

TAMPA — The driver who was sought in a fatal hit-and-run on Sunday night has turned himself in.Police say Roger Herelle, 33, told detectives Wednesday he was involved in the crash that killed Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58.Police had had been seeking t...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

LARGO — At least 12 families leased the same Largo home at the same time and lost as much as $4,300 each in a fraud scheme run by a couple who portrayed themselves as owners of the property, Largo police said.Police learned of the scheme Tuesday afte...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clea...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

TAMPA — Police are working to recover a body that was found floating in the water near the Davis Island Sea Basin on Wednesday morning.It is uncertain how the body ended up there, according to police.This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

LAND O’LAKES – A Sarasota developer is proposing to turn a vacant Winn-Dixie store in central Pasco into a Sprouts Farmers Market.Benderson Development filed preliminary plans Monday with Pasco County to redevelop the former Winn-Dixie store at the n...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

TAMPA — Tristan Herrin, a passenger in the speeding black Mustang that struck and killed a woman and her young daughter last month as they tried to cross Bayshore Boulevard, renewed his not guilty plea Wednesday to a misdemeanor street racing charge....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.TAMPA’S BERKELEY PREP GRADS LEAD REVOLT AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN: KIRSTJEN NIELSENWhen Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went on national television Monday and dismissed criticism o...
Updated: 2 hours ago