Since the beginning of time, there have been a number of different theories as to how and when the world might end. There are many who believe the Mayan calendar is predicting that the end of days will come December of this year.
While we won't know for a few months whether or not that turns out to be correct, the Jason Miller Playwrights' Project (JMPP) is giving theatergoers a chance to see how a few may handle the end of the world.
Apocalypse is the theme for Dyonisia ‘12, the second annual JMPP Invitational scheduled for Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 20 through 30 at the Old Brick Theatre in Scranton.
The JMPP will stage 12 one-act plays, written by regional writers, on alternating nights.
"This year's theme is the apocalypse, so all the plays are some sort of take on that theme, and we've got all different kinds of perspectives on the end of the world. We've got some really interesting stuff this year," said Sarah Regan, who is directing three of the plays and performing in another.
The plays range in genre, offering something for every taste.
"There are a couple that are very funny," said Regan. "Some of them are very serious, but there are a lot of things in there to laugh about … there is definitely a good variety in there."
JMPP held the inaugural Dyonisia last year, performing one program of nine plays for four nights. A positive reaction from last year's audience, and word of mouth, helped increase interest in the event this year.
As a result of the attention, the JMPP decided to increase the number of performances and plays this year. The decision was influenced partially by an increase in submissions from playwrights interested in staging their work at the festival, but more so as a way to help the event grow.
"We did get a lot of great submissions, but basically we wanted to make it bigger and better than it was last year," explained Regan. "We did nine plays last year. This year we wanted to do a little bit more. We thought one night might be a little bit too long… so we decided to do two programs this year."
The plays were split up by subject matter, with pieces dealing with the subject of art and murder being performed on Sept. 20, 22, 28 and 30, and pieces dealing with religion and science-fiction on Sept. 21, 23, 27 and 29.
Writers with work in this year's festival include Maureen McGuigan, Hank Willenbrink, Alicia Grega, Mark Zdancewicz, Amye Archer, James M. Spock, Dawn Zera, Charles O'Donnell, Jeff Boam, Jack McGuigan, K.K. Gordon and Kait Burrier.
Regan, Alicia Nordstrom, Zdancewicz, Grega and Scranton Public Theatre Executive Director Bob Shlesinger will each be directing pieces.
Boam, Nordstrom and Regan are also part of the cast, which includes Nicole Lopez-Isa, Tim McDermott, Conor O'Brien, Kathryn Priestash, Maggie O'Brien, Kimmie Wraizen, Eric Lutz, Jer Tobin, Emily Thomas, David James Baker, Pat McNichols, Kathleen Patrizi, Joe DeMuro, Ellen O'Brien, Dante Giammarco and Conor McGuigan.
Some of the writers, directors and actors are new to the JMPP, but a good number have participated in either last year's Dyonisia or in another JMPP production. The company holds performances all year round, but Dyonisia is a little different from what the group normally does.
"We do a lot of staged readings (through the year) where the actors have the scripts in their hands, and there's a minimum set, sometimes the actors are in costume, and sometimes we have other multimedia elements and we have a little reception after, but we can't do full-fledged productions all year round as much as we'd like to," said Regan.
"They're time-consuming, they cost money, but at the same time we want to nurture local playwrights and get people to the next step which they might not necessarily have if they hadn't had their play read in public."
Last year's Dyonisia helped Regan get her own work to the next level. She's expanded the work she submitted to the festival last year, "The Resurrection of Campbell Colgate," into a full-length play. The Old Brick Theatre will host a performance of the piece in November.
Theatergoers will have to wait and see whether or not any of the writers participating in Dyonisia ‘12 feel inspired to follow in Regan's footsteps, and if they do, Regan said the JMPP will do what they can to help them with the process.
"If they're inspired to write a full-length play from their work in this production, then we're all for it. We'll help nurture them any way we can," said Regan.
For more information on the JMPP, call 591.1378 or email [email protected].
Those interested in attending are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets can be purchased at www.subverseaphrodesia.com.
What: Dyonisia ‘12: Apocalypse, the second annual JMPP Invitational
When: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 20 to 30. Shows begin on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
"Love or Rage, Anthem of the Apocalypse" by Maureen McGuigan, "Universal Applicant" by Hank Willenbrink, "I I I me me me I I I " by Alicia Grega, "Love and the Apocalypse" by Mark Zdancewicz, "Surviving" by Amye Archer, and "Looking for Love Before World War III" by James M. Spock, will be presented Sept. 20, 22, 28 and 30.
"Contemporary Saints" by Dawn Zera, "The Last Time" by Charles O'Donnell, "Dead to the World" by Jeff Boam, "The Grotto" by Jack McGuigan, "The Operatives of Game Theory" by K.K. Gordon, and "Patient/Fracture" by Kait Burrier, will be presented Sept. 21, 23, 27, and 29.
Where: Old Brick Theatre, 128 W. Market St., Scranton
Cost: Advance tickets are $12.50 each or $24 for two, $36 for three or $48 for four. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door on a pay-what-you-can $10-$15 sliding-scale basis.
Info: 344.3656, email [email protected] or visit subverseaphrodesia.com.