Fourth Annual One-Act Play Festival
Welcome to the Festival
While our two other festivals, the Ten-Minute Play Festival that first occurred in 2006, and our Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival beginning in 2013, have been annual events not so this one-act effort. The pandemic forced cancellation of this festival in 2020. (We continued to produce the other two festivals as radio theater productions, and you can still hear those as our guests here.)
Aside from these plays being longer, they are also submitted from all over the United States. And they come to us quickly. Each year, we announce a submission opportunity, and every year since 2019, the 100 plays that we seek arrive sooner.
Each performance of this festival will include all four finalist plays decided for us by a team of skilled playreaders, and on the final day a Best Play will be announced, and a playwright will receive the Verna Safran Prize of $1,000. Elsewhere in this digital playbill, you may read about Verna’s legacy, and about the playwrights, and the directors and actors of their plays, and the three learned judges who have chosen the Best Play.
While I would be the first person to assure you that it does take a village, I am honored to helm such an undertaking. There is a biblical parable about toiling in the vineyard. Theatre Odyssey has been a vineyard for me since its beginning. And every vintage seems somehow better than the last one.
I hope you will enjoy these plays, and the effort made to bring them to you. And I trust you know that Theatre Odyssey appreciates you. Many of you have steadfastly supported this company for its past seventeen years and we are grateful.
So now, sit back and enjoy the festival.
All the best,
Festival Production Manager
Founder and Director Emeritus
CLICK ON THE TITLES BELOW TO OPEN A PAGE FOR EACH PLAY.
by Meg Hanna-Tominaga
“You don’t have to believe something to believe IN it.” Terry forces a reunion with her estranged daughter on Halloween night. Her motives seem genuine, but Rochelle doesn’t trust her. As their conversation progresses, the narrative shifts and we are left to question who is and who is not trustworthy … and what is truth, anyway.
Director: Jeffery Kin
Terry — Ann Gundersheimer
Rochelle —Lilian Moore
Kelsey — Haley Hines
Ann Gundersheimer (Terry) is happy to be back at Theatre Odyssey where she last performed in 2016. A transplant to Sarasota from Philadelphia, she gained her MFA in Theatre at Wayne State University, taught Theatre at Temple University and has been seen on many stages in and around Philly and Sarasota.
Lilian Moore (Rochelle) has performed in many shows at The Players Theatre, several ten-minute plays for Theatre Odyssey, the final season at The Banyan, and several films. She is delighted to be working with Jeffery again and to be part of the One-Act Festival. Special thanks to my biggest fan, Richard!
Haley Hines (Kelsey) has performed locally in Doubt: A Parable, Old Ringers, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Fox on the Fairway, and Happy Birthday, Valerie Solanas. She lives with her husband in Venice and enjoys weightlifting and seashell collecting. “Thank you to all the beautiful souls who made this production possible!”
Jeffery Kin (director) — Having lived in Sarasota since 1991, Jeffery considers himself “an almost native.” Lured to the area for its lively cultural arts scene, and tired of the manic pace of New York City, Jeffery moved to Florida to retire from his professional life in theater. As you can tell, his attempt was a dismal failure. “Sarasota gave me an unexpected opportunity to grow. I had performed professionally for almost five years after graduating from Otterbein University with a BFA in Performance, but Sarasota offered me more; opportunities to direct, choreograph, write plays, produce and teach…and I grabbed on to each opportunity.” Recently, Jeffery wrapped up his 15 years as Artistic Director of The Players Center and is now embarking on his next adventure, producing an annual arts centric festival for our cultural coast. Look for more creativity and more excitement from Jeffery and his festival team at Sarasota Rising!
Meg Hanna-Tominaga (playwright) is a playwright and designer. She has designed for theaters and opera companies in Hawaii and across the contiguous United States, from California to Florida. She has worked as a color stylist on shows such as Spongebob Squarepants, Hey Arnold!, and Invader Zim, and she has worked as production designer on several independent films. Meg lived and worked in Japan for ten years, where she was able to deepen her interest in a number of theatrical and handcraft traditions. Some of her award-winning work has been sponsored by grants from the Hawai’i Board of Tourism, the Int’l Assoc. of Natural Textile, the Asian Theatre Endowment Fund, the Converse University Office of Research, and the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu. Her newest play, The Circus and the Flood, will be performed in September 2022 at the Midwest Regional Festival of the Puppeteers of America.
by James C. Ferguson
One of the biggest movie stars in the world is struggling with some serious debilitating health issues. Both his doctor and his agent do their best to boost his spirits and help him through these tough times.
Director: Katherine Michelle Tanner
Mr. Wolf — Fulvio Della Volta
Doctor —Debbie Davidson
Winny — Lee Gundersheimer
Fulvio Della Volta (Mr. Wolf) is an Italian actor director and producer. He earned a Masters Degree in Communication & Media Studies from La Sapienza University in Rome in 2005, and graduated from the William Esper Studio Two Year Conservatory Program in New York in 2009. Post-graduation, he continued to work closely with Bill Esper on the Meisner Technique in his invitation-only Master Class. In 2007 Fulvio founded his production company Parallel Differences Productions, and he became a member of SAG-AFTRA in 2011. Select Stage Credits: Strictly Dishonorable, Visit to Relatives, Five Years Later, The Twelve Letters. Film Credits: Big Break, Lazy Mary, War Cellar.” TV Credits: The Blacklist, The Daily Show. Commercials and Voiceovers: Google, Youtube, HBO, Pixar, Audible Studios, Rockstar Games, Red Bull, Puma, Galbani, Fiat, Martini. Fulvio also works as an on-set Italian dialect coach, most recently on the network TV shows The Blacklist and Billions.
Debbie Davidson (Doctor) grew up near Albany, NY and began acting in high school. After graduating from Cornell University, she moved to Massachusetts. While raising her children, she became a founding player in Merrimac Community Theater, appearing in You Can’t Take it with You, Steel Magnolias, I Remember Mama and others. She moved to Maryland with her husband Greg, and they moved to Parrish FL in 2015. She soon discovered Parrish Playworks and has appeared in the FRRM Murder Mysteries, Southern Hospitality, Dearly Beloved and Tales of Suspense. This is her first role with Theater Odyssey, and she is grateful for this opportunity.
Lee Gundersheimer (Winny) is glad to be back in Florida where he began his theatre career over forty years ago. Raised in Miami, Lee is a graduate of the BFA program in Theatre at Florida State and received his Actor’s Equity Card as one of the original apprentices at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter, where he worked onstage with Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Carol Burnett—and first worked alongside Ann Morrison. A performer, director, writer, producer and theatre administrator, he studied with the master teacher Uta Hagen for many years and is a lifetime member of the Actor’s Studio. Lee has worked on stages from off-Broadway to Duluth and has been fortunate to have worked on projects with Bryce Dallas Howard, Chad Boseman, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Josh Fox among countless others.
Katherine Michelle Tanner (director) is originally from Hastings, Minnesota and lives in Sarasota as actor, playwright, singer, director, filmmaker, choreographer, photographer and teaching artist. She is best known for her multi-award winning performance of the one woman play, The Amish Project (Off Broadway and US Tour). Katherine is thrilled to be back onstage at Tree Fort Productions Theatre in her brand new play Mann’s Last Dance and for her new album release concert, The Mississippi. Regional theatre favorite roles include Proof, August Osage County, Hamlet, Metamorphoses, Suddenly Last Summer, The Drowning Girls, Nineteen, The Glass Menagerie, Gidion’s Knot, The Last Five Years, Charm, A Doll’s House, Picasso’s Women and many more. Films include Waiting on Mary, The Darndest Things, 15 Minutes of Faye, A Chance to Live and The Surgeon, Respire Mon Amie. Television: Diamonds Along the Highway on PBS. Katherine was highlighted as a feature playwright at Clutch Productions in NY for her suffragist musical Nineteen. She has written and composed the plays/musicals Shakespeare’s Lovers, Nineteen, Mann’s Last Dance, Echoes, Idiot Servant, Thumbelina, The Little Match Girl, Pippi Longstocking, The Storybook Nutcracker and The Enchanted Toy Shop. She has written and directed the films The Crimson Cloak, Living Losing Loving and the documentary film, Pay Attention. She is the owner and artistic director of Tree Fort Productions. Check out their season at treefortproductions.com
James C. Ferguson (playwright) is a husband, father, writer, and sometimes artist. He could use this space to regale you with a variety of accomplishments but after two years of isolation, let’s be honest, he’s just happy to be back out in the world and would prefer to use this space to say thank you to everyone and anyone involved in developing new work for the theatre. You’re all lovely. Thank you and stay healthy.
by Craig Bailey
Elderly shut-in Daisy suspects her daughter and live-in caregiver, Robyn, isn’t what she seems to be.
Director: Ann Morrison
Daisy — Betty Robinson
Robyn — Nellie O’Brien
Betty Robinson (Daisy) has appeared in many theatrical productions in the Sarasota area, slowly graduating from a musical comedy ingenue to an 80-year-old character actress. In the past few years you may have seen her as Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone, Mama in Bye Bye Birdie, and Wuiser in Steel Magnolias. Her favorite “young” role: Winnifred the Woebegone in Once Upon a Mattress. Her favorite “not-so-young” role: Boubalina in Zorba. Betty tours with the Art Alliance Playreaders in Dixie Swim Club and Send Me No Flowers. She is a member of the Sarasota Area Playwrights Society.
Nellie O’Brien (Robyn) has performed in many national and local venues including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Westchester Broadway Theatre, Tarrytown Music Hall, The Emelin Theatre, White Plains Center for the Performing Arts, Manhattan Repertory Theater, Salt City Center, and The Performing Arts Foundation. A former broadcast journalist, Nellie is the president of Compelle! Communications. She has voiceovers, comedy improv, cabaret, recordings, industrials and directing to her credit and was a recipient of the Irene Ryan Award for Excellence in Acting. She relocated to Venice last September and is very excited and honored to be working with this group.
Ann Morrison (Director) has been a director, writer and professional theater actress for over 35 years, and an acting teacher, coach and mentor for two decades. Her directing credits include: Leading Men, Trevor’s Fire, The Secret Garden, On A Clear Day, Merrily We Roll Along, Smoke on The Mountain and Hair. She was Creator and Artistic Director for theater programs for persons with developmental differences, Kaleidoscope and Random Play. She wrote and performed the “Living Room Theater” pieces Aimee and The Xymox and A Grail Knight Named Christopher, and solo plays Discourse of A Maid, Movements of A Modron, Annie’s Celtic Kitchen, Out of A Three-Legged Pot and most notably Linda Lovely Goes To Broadway, Trevor’s Fire, and Word Painting: Soliloquies Around An Easel, all of which have been published online at indietheaternow.com. Ann has been collaborating with Blake Walton for three decades, their greatest production being their son, Huck Walton.
Craig Bailey (playwright) wrote, produced, and published his first one-act while he was a teenager. In the decades since, he’s played roles in many community theater productions in his native state of Vermont and has appeared in regional television commercials and independent films. Among Craig’s other works, Mitch Maclay Sings Just for You, a one-act inspired by his experience working in small-market radio in the 1980s and ’90s, was recently named Best One-Act at Firehouse Center for the Arts’ 20th Annual New Works Festival in Newburyport, Mass. He’s the producer and host of “Floydian Slip,” a weekly syndicated radio show devoted to rock band Pink Floyd, which is heard on more than 110 stations. And he’s the developer of Read My Play (www.readmyplay.com), a free script exchange service for playwrights. A web developer during office hours, Craig lives in Shelburne, Vermont, with his wife, Noelle, and two ungrateful animals.
by Philip J. Kaplan
Sienna is a star in the Virtual Pornography world, but who is Sienna in real life, and why is she so furious?
Director: Blake Walton
Claire — Harris Elizabeth King
Victor — Scott Ehrenpreis
Barista — Anuj Naidu
Official — Mike DeMaio
Harris Elizabeth King (Claire) is a graduate of The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. She was recently seen in Some Enchanted Evening at the Players Theatre and in You Belong With Me as part of Theatre Odyssey’s Student Playwriting Festival. Film Credits: “The New Roommate”, “The Family Robinson”, “Fornicakes”. Select Commercial Credits: Princess Cruises, Kind Snacks – The Kind Bar Mini, Smile Direct Club, Trintellix, Barilla Pasta, The Today Show.
Scott Ehrenpreis (Victor) has a B.F.A. in performance from Ohio University’s School of Theater. Most recently seen in The Manager, which was given its world premiere at the Players Theatre under the beautiful and soulful direction of Amanda Schlachter. Scott was last seen in Theatre Odyssey’s Ten Minute Play Festival in One Way Mirror. Scott had the privilege of doing understudy work at Florida Studio Theatre for Smoke and Mirrors. Most memorable role was playing Ben Silverman in Neil Simon’s classic play, The Sunshine Boys, a role that he reprised four times professionally. Once again, Scott is honored and humbled to be affiliated with Theatre Odyssey, which has given him a theatrical home.
Anuj K. Naidu (Barista) is an actor, writer, and musician originally from Barbados. At the age of sixteen he moved with his family to Greenville, South Carolina. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina, where he discovered his passion for acting, writing, and film. After living in Miami for a decade, Anuj is happy to call the Bradenton/Sarasota area his new home. This is his first performance with Theatre Odyssey. In his spare time, Anuj enjoys beach sunsets and also attempting to play with the family cat, Bella, who usually wants nothing to do with him.
Michael DeMaio (Official) is thrilled to have found a return to the stage through Theatre Odyssey. He would like say Thank You to his amazing wife Jennifer for always supporting his adventures.
Blake Walton (director) is an award-winning actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, teaching artist, and acting coach for the past 40 years. In 2020 he moved back to Sarasota after a 17-year absence. Most recently he directed the world premiere of Sharon Ohrenstein in her and David Ohrenstein’s Rhapsody For Golda at the 2022 SaraSolo SpringFest and will helm the production again in November in a co-production at The Players Centre; The Unspoken Problem and The Real World (Best Play Winner) for Theatre Odyssey’s 2022 Ten-Minute Student Playwriting Festival, and both Bloodline and Fermata (Best Play Runner-Up) for the 2021 Festival. In September he will direct the world premiere of Katherine Michelle Tanner’s Mann’s Last Dance at Tree Fort Productions. New York: Ann Morrison in Linda Lovely Goes To Broadway and Word Painting: Soliloquies Around An Easel; Heather Massie in Hedy! The Life and Inventions Of Hedy Lamarr (and Sarasota Jewish Theater 2022-23 season), In The Moment, The XXX Scholar, Shangri-La, and The Better Man. Chicago: Out of My Mind and The Charm. Sarasota: Marvin’s Room, Jest A Second, Singin’ In The Rain, 42nd Street, Big River, Babes In Arms, and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Proud member of AEA and The Dramatists’ Guild. Co-founder and Managing Director of SaraSolo Productions. www.blakewalton.info.
Philip J. Kaplan (playwright) has been published in three volumes of Best Ten-Minute Plays (Smith and Kraus) and Best Men’s Monologues 2021. Full-length plays include The Best Day of Your Life (Vintage Theatre, 2019), Bunnyboy (The Growing Stage, 2020), The Cupcake Conspiracy (with C. J. Ehrlich, Rover DramaWerks 2015, Florentine Players 2017), and I, Vermin: A Hollywood Success Story (New York Fringe Festival, 2002). Website: philipkaplan.weebly.com
Providing an element of diversion during scene shifts will be Preston Boyd tangling his fingers around the eight strings of a mandolin, maybe a dozen strings of a 12-string guitar, and possibly five more strings on a banjo. (Not all at the same time.) As a Theatre Odyssey Director Emeritus, his past history with the company includes directing 21 productions for festivals going back to 2008, with credits for six festival winners and several more runners-up. He can also eat fire and ride a unicycle. (Not at the same time.)
THE VERNA SAFRAN PRIZE
Theatre Odyssey is honored to have received a substantial endowment from an anonymous donor honoring the memory of Sarasota resident Verna Safran, who passed away in 2017.
This generous donation will be used to fund the first place scholarship and prize money for all three of Theatre Odyssey’s annual playwriting festivals for many years to come and will be named “The Verna Safran Prize” in her honor.
Verna held a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Dramatic Literature from Columbia University and was a member of the Dramatist Guild. Her play, Just Fooling, was a finalist in Theatre Odyssey’s 2014 Ten-Minute Play Festival. She also wrote A Wedding at the Brothers and Sisters Coffeehouse, which won the 2007 Best Play of the Year at Players Theatre of Sarasota and The Rogue’s Gallery, produced at Southampton Cultural Center. Her short play The Throne is included in the collection Ten Short Plays by Ten Top Playwrights.
A former high school English and history teacher, she also authored three successfully produced musical shows for children: The Legend of Paul Bunyan, Hiawatha, and The Prince and the Pauper.
In addition to her extensive writing career, Ms. Safran served on the board of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was active in the Unitarian/Universalist Church of Sarasota.
Festival Production Manager — Tom Aposporos
Stage Managers — Donna DeFant, Priscilla Boyd
Lights — Chris McVicker
Sound — Ren Pearson
Sound Technician — Tami Vaughan
Backstage Crew — Lynda St. James, Liam DeMaio, Kennedy Cole, Avery Cole
The Players Centre for Performing Arts
The Center for Arts & Humanity
Carole Goff & Asolo Prop Shop
Natalie Symons is an award-winning playwright and best-selling novelist. Her plays have been developed and produced at theatres across the county, including American Stage, freeFall Theatre, ACT Theatre, Theatre22, Urbanite Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Theater Schmeater, Florida Studio Theatre, Bridge Street Theatre, Amas Musical Theatre, Arts Garage, and Key City Public Theatre. Most recently, The People Downstairs world premiered at American Stage and received the BroadwayWorld Regional Award for Best Original Script of the Decade. Her play Naming True was included in Ashland New Play Festival’s inaugural Play4Keeps podcast and was a finalist for the Bridge Initiative Women in Theatre Playwright of the Year Award. Among other honors, Natalie was the recipient of the Creative Pinellas Professional Artist Grant, and the 2018/19 Playwright-in-Residence at American Stage. Her play The Buffalo Kings earned the BroadwayWorld Regional Award for Best Play. In addition, her work has been featured in Smith & Kraus’ Best of 2019 and 30th Anniversary Edition Best of 2020. In September 2021 her debut novel Lies In Bone was released by Boyle & Dalton and earned her The Royal Dragonfly Literary Award, and the Best Book Award from American Book Fest. Lies In Bone is also the recipient of The Eric Hoffer Literary Award, The NIEA Award, and was the Chanticleer International Book Awards’ Somerset Grand Prize Winner in Literary and Contemporary fiction. In May of 2022 Lies In Bone became #1 on Audible across all categories and an international best-seller on Amazon. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she now lives in St. Petersburg with her husband Jim and their rescue dogs Chloe and Ted.
Bruce Rodgers received his undergraduate degree in Music Education from SUNY Potsdam and his graduate degree in Creative Writing from Indiana University. In the 1980s he affiliated with the McCarter Theatre as resident playwright. As an arts administrator he was Literary Manager of the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, NY, and from 1993 to 2004 the Associate Artistic Director of the Asolo Theatre Company in Sarasota. In 2005 he became the Founding Executive Director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida, a position he held through 2019. As a playwright, Rodgers has won the prestigious Rosenthal New Play Prize at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a Dramalogue Award for best new play in Los Angeles, a playwriting fellowship from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and he was named a “Distinguished Artist” by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His plays Debut…, Lost Electra, Centerburg Tales, and The Gravity of Honey have seen productions at major regional theaters throughout the United States as well as in Dublin, Ireland. He is proud to be a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Seaside Escape to Create Fellow, and a Ragdale Fellow. He is currently writing and consulting from his home in Sarasota.
Patricia Vandenberg, Ph.D.
Patricia has had a long career as a top-rated professor in the areas of theatre and communications. She earned her Ph.D. With Distinction in History and Criticism of the Theater from the University of Michigan, where she also received an M.A. in Communications and did the work for an M.F.A. in costume design. As a professor of theatre, Patricia chaired theatre departments, designed for theatre and dance companies, served on the Governing Council of the Association for Theater in Higher Education, and was an adjudicator for the American College Theater Festival. As a communications expert her professional positions included serving as the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the University of Massachusetts and at Mount Holyoke College, the oldest women’s college in the world, where she also taught honors tutorials in theatre. As a consultant Patricia has coached CEOs, managers, and entrepreneurs — working with organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits. Since retiring to Sarasota, Patricia has been an enthusiastic supporter of its rich theatre community, including as an occasional costume designer for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
Playing it Safe: Masking in the Cook Theatre is not compulsory (although we recommend it), but masking is currently required when entering the FSU/Asolo Center for the Performing Arts and when passing through the lobby to the Cook, following Broadway’s rules. This information will be updated if any changes occur.
320 minutes of insightful, fanciful and comic flights of imagination—ready for you to experience again!
ORDER YOURS TODAY!
TEN-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL
VOLUME FOUR: 2018-2021
Complete scripts for 33 new ten-minute plays, finalists at annual festivals produced by Theatre Odyssey, 2018-2021: Marvin Albert, Seva Anthony, Michael Bille, Dorothea Cahan, Monica Cross, Paul Donnelly, Cece Dwyer, Tony Gunn, Dan Higgs, Kea Kamiya, John J. Kelly, Arthur Keyser, Frank Motz, Marj O’Neill-Butler, Spencer Opal-Levine, Michelle Pascua, Ken Preuss, Sylvia Reed, Arianna Rose, Connie Schindewolf, Fredric Sirasky, Mary Margaret Steber, Laurie Stoner, Luke Valadie, Jan Wallace, Robert Wanderman, Keith Whalen, Bernard Yanelli. Performance rights for these individually copyrighted works are available directly from the authors.