Keep in mind the up-close-and-personal of a Broadway theater? We’ve longed for it too, and Scranton Scratch Night time by Pinkhouse Productions (whose crew contains Lawryn LaCroix, Producer, Jennifer Jones, Consulting Producer, and Kate Maguire, Affiliate Producer) and Scranton Shakes (led by Michael Bradshaw Flynn, Scranton Shakespeare Pageant Founder and Creative Director and Jonathan Stephens, Scranton Shakespeare Pageant Managing Director) introduced us as shut as doable for one evening of distant theatrical performances from a few of the high rising expertise in playwriting.
It could not have been off-Broadway precisely, as an alternative all-the-way-off-Broadway on Zoom, however we had been all jazz arms anyway to fulfill the 4 chosen playwrights.
Narrowed from over 300 who submitted scripts on the theme of “Ghosts” throughout the US, UK, Europe and Canada – they included, Emily Powers (“Sunday Night time At Jane’s), Sergei Burbank (“Conversion Fee”), Matthew Martinez (“Sheol”), and Ed Precht (“Unusual, America”).
The considerate writing and performances veered into the extraordinary for the group of latest expertise, and every vignette was guided by Scratch Night time host and remote-performance professional herself, Heidi Gardner, who carried out remotely final yr as a solid member alongside the entire SNL comedy cohort.
Emily Powers might need conjured the scariest ghost story of all in “Sunday Night time At Jane’s”, when titular character Jane goes AWOL on her personal banquet that brings collectively every one in every of her exes for a hauntingly hilarious evening of character clashes and trauma bonding. Solely Jane’s therapist within the room might have made it extra awkward.
There was room for one shock visitor as Sergei Burbank launched his “Conversion Fee”, his child daughter having fun with a popsicle on digital camera. That alone can be sufficient to interrupt Zoom fatigue, however the staggering performances of his successful script’s characters – an investigative journalist newly intervening on an previous cop’s dangerous practices – blew us and the judges away.
The judges had been veteran theater performers and producers April Matthis, Cavan Hallman, Phillippe Cato, Jayne Baron Sherman, and Jonny Beauchamp, who supplied a discerning lens to see the works.
Beauchamp made a poignant call-out on behalf of Matthew Martinez, who went by his personal plight with Covid-19 throughout the writing of “Sheol” final yr. The inventive course of is a frightening, private journey, similar to the one his characters face staring into the abyss of a gap in a distant desert. Will the subsequent crew arrive to alleviate them of their watch, or will their lives sink into madness? – but perhaps life and sanity are each one in the identical.
Asking daring existential questions is all the time on the core of an excellent story, and Ed Precht’s “Unusual, America” that capped off the evening was no completely different. A pair in a fraught relationship might be quite blissful towards the backdrop of this Unusual metropolis they instantly discover themselves in. That’s the true title of the borderless northwest city, which with its off-kilter townies make moments in limbo really feel like they could by no means finish.
Scranton Scratch Night time could also be over, however try this system and prepare to observe the successful work from Sergei Burbank be carried out in summer season 2021 on the Scranton Shakespeare Pageant (Scranton Shakes). All socially distanced, after all.
We actually are giving new that means to off-Broadway, aren’t we?
This publish is a sponsored collaboration between Scranton Scratch Night time and Gothamist sponsor employees.