Out on a Limb spotlights playwrights

Actors portray characters in a play during the 2018 version of Out on a Limb: New Plays from America’s Finest City. This year, Scripps Ranch Theatre presents Out on a Limb July 12-21. (photo by Daren Scott)

Out on a Limb spotlights playwrights

The eighth annual Out on a Limb: New Plays from America’s Finest City festival (OOAL) returns to Scripps Ranch Theatre (SRT) July 12-21, shining a spotlight on new playwrights while adding a couple of new twists to the festival’s traditional format.

This year, veteran SRT and OOAL director and actor Charles Peters has taken over full production of the event from festival founder Robert May.

Among the changes this year is that the featured plays will be about 10 minutes long instead of 30, as had been the case before. Also new this year, a panel of judges and festival audiences will vote on their favorite plays, with the play voted/judged best receiving a $2,500 prize to be split among the winning playwright, the actors and the specific director who put on the play. The winning play will be announced at the end of the festival’s final Sunday.

Peters noted that shorter plays are easier for new playwrights to write than a 30-minute play, and he feels that the new format, combined with the impact of social media sharing, significantly increased the number of submissions received.

“We got about 500 submissions from all over the world,” Peters said. “I got submissions from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, a lot from New York and all over the United States, Los Angeles, and, of course, San Diego. We mainly posted the notice on Facebook, and it seems to have been shared and reposted a lot.”

To decide which of the 500 submissions to present, Peters had a select group of local directors read all the plays and vote on which ones they wanted to direct.

Plays selected for the festival include:

“A Semicolon Is A Double,” written by Larry Rinkel and directed by Kristin Fogle, which tells the story of two seemingly different high school boys who bond over grammar and the secret they’ve both been hiding.

“Severance,” a play written by Phil Darg and directed by James P. Darvas that examines what happens when job security is more important than self-respect.

“Stain,” written by Oded Gross and directed by Hannah Logan, which takes a funny look at the state of affairs in the United States today.

“Rockpaperworld,” written by Jaisey Bates and directed by Colette Hamilton, a two-act play that examines pressing human and environmental issues.

“Squirrels in a Knothole,” an examination of the “vapid minutiae of corporate America,” written by Peter J. Stavros and directed by Adam Parker.

“The Hunt(s),” written by Tori Rice King and directed by Leigh Akin, about a successful lawyer returning to her rural home out of concern for her mother’s mental health.

Peters said that the festival offers a valuable opportunity to encourage and show off new talent in theater.

“It’s a way for some actors and directors to break in and get them some confidence,” he said. “You learn a lot when you jump in with both feet – myself included. I would not be where I am had I not worked on Out on a Limb originally.”

Scripps Ranch Theatre is on the campus of Alliant International University, 9783 Avenue of Nations. The Out on a Limb festival begins July 12, with plays being staged Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through July 21. For ticket information, call (858) 578-7728 or visit scrippsranchtheatre.org.

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