The Seven: Something Left Unsaid
Ten minutes to make an impression
The assignment isn't easy: Create a coherent, fully developed play adhering to a theme and lasting only 10 minutes. The task is challenging, but the Fusion Theatre Company got scripts from more than 400 people who wanted to try anyway.
The Seven: Something Left Unsaid is Fusion's third annual playwriting festival. Each year since 2006, Fusion's selected seven short plays and performed them back-to-back with minimal rehearsal time. This year, the festival's curator, Jen Grigg, sifted through submissions from 41 states and six countries. She narrowed the pool down to 22 finalists and Fusion's national selection panel decided which plays would be performed. Among other criteria, the productions that made the final cut adeptly followed this year's theme of "Something Left Unsaid."
"The festival's momentum is exciting," Grigg says. "People are learning about the theater scene in Albuquerque through the festival and it's putting us on the map."
For everyone involved in the festival, time is the biggest constraint. Directors can't use many set pieces because the next play must start a minute after theirs has ended. Actors have only four hours of rehearsal strewn over a week before it's time for the premiere. Dramatists must introduce characters, identify a conflict and come to a resolution in 10 minutes. Fusion Executive Director Dennis Gromelski says the whole cast and crew thrives on the crunch. "It's going to be an intense two weeks," Gromelski says. "But to be able to rehearse a play one week and then perform it the next is a really fun thing to do."
For playwright Jen Silverman, it was primarily the festival's theme that enticed her to enter. "It seems so strange and haunting," Silverman says. "How can you stage something that's not being said?" Silverman seems to have solved that quandary, because both plays she submitted were selected to be performed, including the jury prize-winning "The Education of Macoloco," which Curator Grigg is also directing.
"Macoloco" is the story of single mother Anessa and her son, Macoloco. In an attempt to educate her child, Anessa gives him an arsenal of facts for every occasion. As he grows older, Macoloco realizes the only fact he's missing is the name of his father. "It has to do with needing to be forgiven by someone, because you can’t forgive yourself,” Silverman explains.
Because she won the jury prize, Fusion is paying for Silverman’s plane ticket from Simsbury, Conn., to come see her creations on stage. “It’s exhilarating,” she says. “Part of the beauty of theater is having strangers look at your script, understand it and bring it to life in their own ways.”
In past years, New Mexican writers have had the pleasure of seeing their works performed at the festival. This time, each of the seven plays has been penned by someone from outside the Land of Enchantment. Since all of the selections are chosen without the judges knowing who wrote them, Gromelski says there’s no way to make sure New Mexicans are represented. But he does want to get local playwrights more involved. “The competition is tough,” Gromelski says. “But, in the future, we're gonna do all we can to get the word out to every corner of New Mexico to submit plays.”
For the first time, the Bob and Gail Bosser Audience Choice Award will be given to the play the crowd likes best. Audience members are encouraged to fill out a ballot included in the playbill to cast their votes, and the winning playwright will receive a plaque to commemorate his or her accomplishment. Gromelski says the Bossers are fixtures of the city’s theater scene. “For decades, they’ve been Albuquerque’s most prolific theatergoers,” Gromelski says. “They’re what being an audience member is all about.”