Imagofest 2011 at Stella Adler Theatre

As far as themes are concerned, the three One-Acts chosen this year for the newly formed Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective are diverse in style but connected in a through-line that works well, whether intentionally or not. Focusing on dysfunctional relationships, the three plays show the different range of writers that this collective focuses upon. For one thing, the plays are definitely not fully developed, even as One-Acts. Still, it’s a great showcase for the writers and actors that come out of this collective. It’s strength is in the slow build-up from first to final play.

“Red Poppies” by Timothy McNeil develops a tender relationship between Iris (Zulivet Diaz) and Abbott (Chervine Namani.) She’s a bit mentally unstable, but as the play develops, you understand why that is so: she was raped a few years ago. It’s not clear whether Abbott was also violated by the soldiers along with Iris, but they both share a common brutality that leaves them scarred. The play takes a while to develop and the horror that these two characters face isn’t fully realized. The grim nature of their meeting (her father’s funeral) adds a level of morbidity, but fails to fully connect with the main theme.

In “Cyclical Conversations to Nowhere,” by Alex Aves, the relationship is less defined, assigning numbers to characters rather than names, perhaps suggesting the universal themes of their dilemma. A (Meghan Cox) and B (Erik Adrian Santiago) explores the dynamic between male and female relationship, but less successfully than the first play. The characters meander through what appear to be existentialist ramblings and thoughts spoken out loud. It is obvious that their relationship is in trouble, but there’s never a true connection between A or B that engages the audience. It’s a great exercise for a writer to explore major themes, but the characters serve as mere mouthpieces for big thoughts that are probably better suited for an experimental shorter piece.

The final play, “Mother’s Day” is probably the tightest and most engaging of the three One-Acts. Mark Donnelly’s script is not perfect but it definitely shows an understanding of the One-Act structure. This black comedy examines the disconnection between family members. Melody (Susan Vinciotti Bonito) obsesses about her lost dog and is clueless about the goings-on in her home. Her husband Ron (Jon Boatwright) has to remind her that she even has children while she demands to know exactly how many. Their daughter Becky (Francesca Fondevila), a cheerleader is preoccupied with getting the right cheer down and is probably the only one in the family trying to connect with anyone else at home. On the other hand, their son Danny (Chris Petrovski) just wants to get some sleep.


About Obed Medina
Obed received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. He has freelanced and volunteered at various theatre companies in Los Angeles since 2002. He launched his own workshop theatre company in 2008 and has produced six original one-act plays and one Off-Broadway hit. Currently, he is living in Ashland, Oregon working on his writing and founder of Collaborative Theatre Project.

One Response to Imagofest 2011 at Stella Adler Theatre

  1. Erica says:

    Saw “Mother’s Day”, thought it was awesome. Funny yeah but very disturbing. Playright Donnelly has a sure hand with dialogue and characterization, every character is vivid and specific. Great audience response the Sat night we saw it.

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