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One-act writers rise to occasion

(ran PC edition of Pasco Times)

When the call went out for amateur scripts for the One-Act Weekend, the producer was flooded with 40 scripts to choose from.

The Carrollwood Players' annual call for amateur scripts for its One-Act Weekend usually turns up a few dramatic gems. But nothing compared with this year's response.

"Every William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams came out of the woodwork," said John Lazo, a 20-year veteran of local stages, who is producing the community theater effort.

Lazo fielded 40 scripts and narrowed the final cut this week to eight small plays that will make up the three-day One-Act Weekend on Nov. 12-14.

"Forty submissions is a lot to choose from," said Lazo, who has been notifying the winning playwrights this week. "We really promoted it this time. We think it's important to give a voice to new playwrights."

The plays Lazo selected are a variety of comedies, dramas and even a one-act musical. The longest runs about 15 minutes, he said, and the shortest is a 90-second monologue.

"I got everything in, sat down and read them all," Lazo said. "There were all excellent submissions, so I had to do a lot of weighing and balancing."

Although Lazo made the final cuts, he will be working with Carrollwood Players artistic director Linda Priester, who directed the group's recent production of Harvey, in staging the weekend of plays.

Each of the eight plays will have a different director, and for the first time Carrollwood Players will have an open audition for cast members to try out for one-act roles.

"We want to emphasize people who are new to the theater," Lazo said. "People who are either new to the theater, new acting talent or experienced people who are new to the area. It's a way for people to get involved and it's a way for directors to see new faces."

Auditions for the estimated 40 to 50 roles are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13.

Lazo, who has been with the Carrollwood Players for seven years, had his directorial debut in February when the group staged The Shadow Box.

He performed in the One-Act Weekend two years ago, and this is his first stint as the show's producer. Already, he knows he has his work cut out if he's to match previous efforts.

"Both of the last two years have been excellent turnouts," Lazo said.

"Which has been very encouraging to us. People want to see a lot of original work and we're happy to provide that. And we hope that's the same this year."

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