The Birthing

When a play hits the stage for its first full production , it’s travelled a long way.

Often a playwright begins showcasing her work by reading a scene or two in front of friends. After that, perhaps she recruits actors and presents those same scenes in a coffeehouse setting, then there might be a staged reading of the play in its entirety. And then, maybe, it is ready to be produced. In between these steps, she madly re-writes and revises, based on, amongst other things, reactions from the audience .

Each stage of this process has its own charms and surprises , and theatre-goers who are present for each of these plateaus have the pleasure of witnessing a work of art evolve in front of their eyes.

On Thursday, December 4, Nakai Theatre is offering you the chance to get in on the ground floor as a fleet of local playwrights present five minutes from the plays they created at the 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge in November.

This follow-up event is called the 24-Hour Playwriting Cabaret, and according to past participant Roy Nielson, it’s always a good time.

“ It’s really fun,” opines Neilson. “Every one is sitting at tables, sharing the night with each other.”

He makes it clear the cabaret is not solely intended for participants in the playwriting challenge; every member of the audience is presented with a unique experience.

“ It’s one of the only opportunities to see something raw and unfinished,” he says.

And Neilson thinks that’s a voyeuristic thrill:

“ It’s like seeing into someone’s journal.”

As well as being a showcase for personal expressions, the cabaret functions as an awards show. Prizes are doled out for Best Play, 1st Runner Up, and 2nd Runner Up. Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell will present Larry’s Last Line, an award given to the play that Bagnell deems to have the most compelling closing quote, and Yukon MP Ryan Leef will be presenting Leef’s Title Fight, going to the play he thinks has the best moniker.

Sometimes, however, the real prize isn’t among the official awards; part of Nakai Theatre’s mandate is to commission and develop plays that begin at 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge. The cabaret, of course, is the first time these works see the light of day. Leonard Linklater and Patti Flather’s 60 Below, was born here, before going on to national acclaim.

Neilson says the diverse array of awards and opportunities creates a palpable buzz at the cabaret .

“ The energy level in the room is pretty high, so it’s difficult not to get drawn in,” he says.

It’s also an atmosphere conducive to “breaking down artificial boundaries” in theatre.

“ You’re all involved,” Nielson says, noting that if you laugh at a given line , the playwright will hear it, and that might affect the final product.

Rarely does the audience wield such power.

The 24-Hour Playwriting Cabaret starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Deck in the High Country Inn on Thursday, December 4. Tickets go for $7 at the door.

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