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Six plays are better than one

Six mini-plays by Florida writers are being produced by Stageworks in a show that opens tonight at the Falk Theatre. They're calling it "Florida Briefs."

One of the plays is The Confession by Sarasota playwright Jack Gilhooley. "It's a tale about the first female priest in the Catholic Church in the 21st century," Gilhooley said. "But it's far from religious. Don't invite the Knights of Columbus. It's satirical."

Gilhooley is on something of a roll. His The Machine, which is about the the political machine of "Boss Tom" Pendergast in Kansas City, Mo., in the 1920s and '30s, recently received a staged reading at the Asolo Theater in Sarasota. The reading featured TV's Lou Grant, Ed Asner, as Pendergast. Asner is from Kansas City.

Gilhooley is shopping The Machine around to theaters such as Missouri Rep in Kansas City, the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Goodman Theater in Chicago and Seattle Rep. "With 18 characters, it will take a large theater to produce it," the playwright said.

Other plays in the Stageworks production are First Rite by Bob Ammidown; A Shred of Love by Elaine Falk-Katz; Picnic on Wednesday by W.M. Gilmore; All I Really Want by Jim Wicker; and Mr. Damage by Ray Zacek.

The six-play program runs through Aug. 4. There will be a talk-back with all the authors, led by playwriting instructor Bruce Rodgers, on Aug. 2. Tickets are $10 and $12. Call 253-6243.

Return to the Forbidden Planet, a rock spoof of Shakespeare's The Tempest, opens Thursday and runs most of August at the Jaeb Theater of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. For information, call 229-7827. _ JOHN FLEMING