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Pop-up plays’ offer a unique opportunity for writers

MIDDLEBURY — Take six writers and give them 12 hours to write a 10-minute play. Include some random ingredients, some curveballs, and one line chosen by the public. The next day, grab a director and tons of actors, rehearse those shows and perform them that night at 7:30. That’s “Pop-Up Plays,” popping up for the second year at Town Hall Theater on Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. The whole event takes place in 24 hours, which makes it the freshest theater experience around.
“Writing a 10-minute play in a week is tough, let alone in 12 hours, overnight,” says THT’s event producer Haley Rice. “Rehearsing a play is tough. It’s even tougher when you have only 10 hours from the first reading to the first performance. This is a heroic act!”
No one has any advance idea what the shows will be. “Last year, we had plays about a boxer and drag queen on the subway, a puppet show gone wrong, a love triangle game night and a pom-pom wielding psychic, among others. I can’t wait to see what this year’s shows are about,” says Rice. “We’ve got some great new talent and some returning favorites. We’re mixing things up, too. Two of last season’s playwrights and one director are returning as actors.”
“Pop-Up Plays” will feature some fine writers, including Jessie Raymond, columnist for the Addison Independent, along with local well-known Burlington playwrights Seth Jarvis, Chris Caswell, Geeda Searfoorce and Joy Kipp, and Middlebury’s own playwright Dana Yeaton.
This year’s “Pop-Up” directors include writer/director/actor Jordan Gullikson; John Nagle, founder of Vermont Shakespeare Company; prolific playwright and director Maura Campbell; writer/director/actor Ethan Bowen; and Lindsay Pontius, formerly with Shakespeare and Company, now Town Hall Theater’s much-revered education director.
The acting company includes Paul Ugalde, Karen Lefkoe, Wendi Stein, Bob Carmody, Kendra Gratton, Kevin Commins, Liza Sacheli, Jason Lorber, Tom Noble, Mimi Bain, MacArthur Stine, Sarah Stone, Grace Demming, Joe Schine, Chris Ross, Kathy Walls, Stephanie Gallas, Zac Lounsbury and Mark Zelis.
Thirty-four Vermont theater artists will converge to create the newest theater possible, creating plays the audience has never seen and will never see them again. “It’s like a unicorn playing a banjo,” says Rice, “Unique, rare, and really interesting. You don’t see that very often.”
Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at www.townhalltheater.org, 802-382-9222, at the THT Box Office (Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.) and at the door. For more information, contact Haley Rice at 802-388-1436 or office@townhalltheater.org.

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