‘Kauai Shorts’ features eight, 10-minute plays

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Nicole Cowan, left, and Nell Foster, are both directing and acting in “Kauai Shorts: A Ten Minute Play Festival.”

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Richard Pettigrew and Carla Kirk rehearse a scene from “Meeting of the Minds” while director Cass Foster looks on. The play is one of eight in “Kauai Shorts: A Ten Minute Play Festival” that opens Aug. 15 at WIT’s End Threatre at Kukui Grove Center.

Eighteen actors.

Ten plays.

Eight performances

Six directors.

Two weekends.

And 136 cues.

In numbers, that sums up “Kauai Shorts: A Ten Minute Play Festival.”

“We have great plays this year,” said Nicole Cowan, president of WIT’s board of directors.

But behind the scenes, there’s so much going on you can’t put facts or figures on the passion and energy of the actors and directors involved in this year’s production by Women in Theatre.

“It’s like payback for me,” said Nell Foster, who is acting in two plays and directing two. “I love the acting part. I love all the other parts, too, but getting to act is kind of my reward for all of it.”

Kauai Shorts features 10 original plays that are 10 minutes long. The festival, in its eight season, is held every other year, so this won’t come around again until 2021.

Directors are promising the audience will be pleased by the plays that are a mix of comedy and drama.

“You’ll be surprised what can happen in 10 minutes,” reads the program flier.

Nearly 100 plays, including some from New Zealand the United Kingdom, were submitted for consideration. A three-person reading committee determined the top 10. It did not know who wrote the plays at the time.

Local playwrights whose work will be featured include Morgan Liddell and Wil Welsh.

Nell Foster, WIT’s vice president and artistic director, noted that previous festivals were held at Kauai Community College over two nights.

“Everybody did all that work and got one performance,” she said.

This time, all 10 plays will be performed each of the eight nights.

Kauai Shorts is unique in that it lets novice directors try their hand, while many of the actors are also new to the stage.

It also gives seasoned actors a chance to play multiple roles, and veteran directors an opportunity to work with actors in a new light.

“It’s cool for the playwrights,” Nell Foster said. “To get their plays staged means a lot.”

Auditions were held over two days for all the plays. Some were cast for more than one part.

“Seeing the same actor doing different characters, there’s diversity they bring to the stage,” Cass Foster said. “And a lot of these actors are familiar to the community, so you’re going to see them in a new light.”

As for staging, it’s basic. Depending on the play, there might be two black boxes that can be used as desks or tables, two chairs, a table, one office chair and a tandem bike.

“The actors are going to be the focus, not the set,” Nell Foster said. “The audience really gets to focus on the acting and use their imagination. Sometimes, we don’t give the audience that much freedom to use their imaginations.”

While there is a 20-minute intermission, the plays will move quickly with the help of emcee and radio personality Ron Wood.

There will be an introduction for each play and lead-in and lead-out music.

Some of the playwrights will be on hand.

Cass Foster, who is directing two plays, said while one might think it’s easy directing just a few actors, it’s not.

“There’s no difference in putting a show together in terms of working with the actors, whether it’s two hours or 10 minutes,” he said. “Absolutely no difference.

“For me, this is kind of nice, a return to my roots. Even though I’m working with a couple actors and very minimal tech support, it’s delightful, absolutely delightful.”

Cass directs his wife Nell in “New Normal.” For the most part, they get along well in theater production.

“We have a lot of counseling outside the stage,” Cass said, laughing as he looked toward Nell.

Actually, they have worked together 30 years and respect each other’s difference with theater.

“We have a lot of fun,” Nell said.

Cowan has fun but it’s hard work directing one play and acting in another, which she does.

So far, she prefers acting.

“It’s just more natural to me, I guess,” she said.

She’s still learning her way on the director’s side.

“I still don’t quite know my style,” Cowan. “You’re trying to navigate how you want to do it.”

WIT is losing its space at Kukui Grove Center after nearly two years, so this is kind of what Nell Foster called “a bitter-sweet” time.

But they are hoping to fill the seats each night, which would help them raise money to find a new home.

Cowan is confident the audience will like what they see.

“It’s a variety show,” Cowan said. “There’s something for everyone, you’ll laugh and cry.”

Kauai Shorts includes:

• “Ring of Truth” written by Marsha Roberts, directed by Morgan Liddell. Cast includes Rebecca Hanson, Billy Quebido and Claudia Cowan

• “Letters From Strangers” by Rob Nisbet, directed by Tamara Jeffries. Cast includes Nell Foster, Robin Bon, Ashley Carinio and Roxanne Fox.

• “There’s New Life Coming” by Marj O’Neill-Butler, directed by Nicole Cowan. Cast includes Ava Collet and Donna Carsten.

• “The Interview” by Patrice Hamilton, directed by Nell Foster. Cast includes Carla Kirk, Denise Robinson, Jarhett Gaines.

• “Wannabe” by Shelley Stolaroff Segal and directed by Morgan Liddell. Cast includes Michael Horning, SJ Le Hoven, Nicole Cowan.

• “Battle of the Front Seat” by Rex McGregor and directed by Wilbur Keith.

• “Meeting of the Minds” by Diane Nichols and directed by Cass Foster. Cast, Richard Pettigrew and Carla Kirk.

• “Keepsake” by Peggy Powell, directed by Wilbur Keith. Cast, Jennifer Cullen, Billy Quebido

• “OMG” by Wil Welsh, directed by Nell Foster. Cast, Michael Horning, Donna Carsten, Jody Van Brunt.

• “New Normal” by Morgan Liddell, directed by Cass Foster. Cast, Jim Ballantine, Nell Foster.

Kauai Shorts is scheduled 7 p.m. Aug. 15, 16 and 17, and 4 p.m. Aug. 18, and 7 p.m. Aug 22, 23, 24 and 4 p.m. Aug. 25, all at WIT’s home at Kukui Grove Center.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Info: wwwwomenintheatre.org, 635-3727

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