‘Playfest’ returns to the Opera House

Jamie Strauss and Chris Curry portray Stephie and Dave in Brett Hersey’s short play, “Pumps,” in the 2016 Playfest. Photo courtesy of Eric Fritzius

PlayFest will return in May, presenting another evening of short plays, sponsored by the Pocahontas County Drama Workshop. The festival will be performed Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, at the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton.

Lewisburg resident and actor/playwright Eric Fritzius will again direct all six of the festival’s short plays, each being approximately 10 minutes in length.  

After serving as the director for the first Opera House PlayFest in 2016, Fritzius chose instead to direct a full length play for the 2017 Drama Workshop production with The People at the Edge of Town by A.J. DeLauder. For 2018, though, he decided to return to the 10-minute play format for a variety of reasons.

“The 10-minute short play format is one I love because when you throw several of them together they always make for an interesting evening of theatre,” Fritzius said. “It’s the format I usually write in myself. They can serve as a sampler pack of different playwrights and different styles, from drama to comedy to a mixture of both. And because they’re so short, they lend themselves well to a brief rehearsal commitment. This can be important when your actors have day jobs and can be scattered across Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties.”

Fritzius, whose own day jobs include acting as a standardized patient for WVSOM in Lewisburg, as well as being a narrator and producer of audiobooks, has had his own plays produced around the state and for festivals in Virginia, Ohio, and, most recently, for the 10×10 Festival at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A frequent actor at Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg, he has directed for GVT’s New Voices play festival for the past five years, and co-directed the first production of the Ronceverte outdoor drama Big Dreams, Restless Spirit in 2007.

“It’s an honor to have been invited back to join the Pocahontas County Drama Workshop team again,” Fritzius said. “They’ve been responsible for multiple theatrical productions at the Opera House over the past two decades, and it’s always a pleasure to work with the talented actors and technicians who make these productions possible.”

The Playfest logo hints at the subject matter for the 2018 series of six 10-minute plays. All six plays were written by Appalachian playwrights and will be directed by Eric Fritzius.

The selected plays for the Opera House PlayFest for 2018 are primarily written by West Virginia and Appalachian playwrights, as well as one by a playwright from Fritzius’ home state of Mississippi. They include: “Bankin’ on the Grand” by Chris Shaw Swanson, depicting a man and wife who find themselves stranded on the roof of their home during a historic flood; “Beans & Franks Never Tasted So Good” by Jonathan Joy, in which an older couple argue and reminisce about a meal they had during their first date; “Daughters These Days” by T.K. Lee features a pair of sisters who must come to terms with the tragic passing of their mother; “Petting Zoo Story” by Jason Half depicts what happens when an overzealous petting zoo employee must contend with a germ phobic patron; “A Woman’s Place” by Gena Taylor Ellis, is a comedy set at a fundraiser for a women’s shelter in which Appalachian misconceptions and class struggles play havoc between a wealthy donor and a woman she assumes is a graduate of the shelter; and “A Game of Twenty…” by Fritzius himself, in which a man gains answers to the mysteries of the universe while in the waiting room of the afterlife.

The Pocahontas County Opera House PlayFest will be presented Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, beginning each evening at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door. For more information, visit pocahontasoperahouse.org or call 304-799-6645.

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