Last year, when Alleyway Theatre put out its list of productions for the 2012-13 season, there was one conspicuous absence.
“Buffalo Quickies,” the theater’s long-running short-play festival and a staple of its yearly schedule, was nowhere to be found. But this was no printing error or oversight. For a host of reasons, but mostly because of funding struggles, the theater axed the festival from its lineup.
But thanks to some vocal Alleyway supporters who backed up their desire for the festival’s return by writing checks to the theater, “Quickies” is back. The theater’s 23rd collection of short plays opens next Thursday and runs through April 27.
For Joyce Stilson, the longtime director of “Quickies,” the profusion of other short-play offerings in Buffalo, combined with a shrinking budget, seemed reason enough to scuttle the festival.
“There are other one-act things going on in the city. It’s gotten to be popular. And also, [I was] thinking about what is it artistically that I’m feeling challenged by and thinking maybe I should have a different challenge or something,” she said. “But it’s come around, and I’m feeling very much re-energized.”
Part of the reason for Stilson’s change of heart about “Quickies” came from veteran Alleyway supporter Jamey Quiram, who frequently pressed Stilson to bring “Quickies” back to the Alleyway stage. He approached Stilson after an Alleyway show last year and asked how much the theater needed to revive the event. In the end, Quiram and eight other Alleyway fans donated to the theater to bring it back to life.
“It was very encouraging,” Stilson said. “It was like, yeah, I guess this does have a place in the universe.”
Other local theaters that host short-play events include the Subversive Theatre Collective, Buffalo United Artists and Niagara University.
The one-act form, which stretches back centuries, has had something of a revival in the past quarter-century, as producers and audiences have embraced the creative possibilities of short-form plays.
“One-acts are able to present an idea that is clever, that has some kind of emotional tie-in for the audience, that has a different view. [It’s] an idea that does not merit full-length. There are plenty of plays that I’ve seen that I’ve thought, this is not full-length, this is one-act,” Stilson said. “So what was a really clever, engaging idea becomes trite and boring and the doldrums because you’re spending way too much time analyzing it when what it really needs is seven minutes.”
There is no shortage of material when it comes to producing short-play programs. Alleyway receives scripts for its festival from around the world, Stilson said. But this year’s program of eight pieces also features three plays by local writers: Donna Hoke’s “Face Time,” Donna Marie Vaughan’s “Full Circle” and Camilla Maxwell’s “Pet Envy.”
What: “Buffalo Quickies”
When: Next Thursday-April 27
Where: Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley
Tickets: $13 to $25
Info: 852-2600 or www.alleyway.com