Tracy and I got out to the Boston Center for the Arts to see Pumpkin Patch in SlamBoston last night (it's nice having a teenager who can babysit for her little brother now). The evening was completely sold out--I had friends who showed up and got on the waiting list and didn't get in. The full house and the slam nature of the event started the night out with a palpable electricity--exactly the sensation that I want from an audience whenever I go to the theatre.
My show went sixth out of eight. The scripts were a mix, in terms of quality, but they were better than the average fare at a short-play festival. The time limit was supposed to be 14 minutes, but at least three of the plays ran over 18-minutes, which was a bit problematic (for them). Pumpkin Patch came in between 8 and 9 minutes, which was appreciated by the audience. Judging was done by five judges from the audience, who rated each play on a scale from 1-10 (they were encouraged to be generous, so the numbers tended to be in the 9s).
The performance was everything I wanted it to be. The audience really hooked into it, especially since the preceding play was pretty low key, without much interaction between the characters. My play is full of conflict. At first, we got a lot more laughs than I expected. Part of it was just the energy of the evening, and part of it was appreciation on the part of the crowd for the absurdity of the conversation between the characters. Then, when the racial undertones bubbled up to the surface, you could hear the crowd catch its breath and lean forward, as they followed the tone shift.
The big explosion of action that happens near the end of the play, when the white woman smashes the pumpkins was totally intense. We had three styrofoam "funkins" that I got at the craft store--they looked great, completely realistic. But we didn't have the budget for a practice smash, so the actress, Eliza Lay, had to try it for the first time live in performance. She smashed the first one easily, and managed to demolish the other two (with a brief scary moment, when one of them started to squirt away). Eliza really let loose. The spurt of onstage action and violence grabbed the audience completely, and the ending felt worked well, with actress Ebony Mills making some strong choices. (Kortney Adams did a great job directing this piece.)
When it was over, it was clear that the piece was one of the stronger one of the evening, but there was tough competition. I particularly liked Linda Suzuki's play, Just Sex, which felt both witty and true, and had a fantastic performance from Philana Gnatowski.
Anyway, when the evening was over, our production squeaked out ahead (and we won glory and cold, hard cash). It was especially rewarding to have my play staged so well for an appreciative audience (I just wish it could run longer). It was one of those nights that reminds me why I do this crazy theatre thing