Arts and Entertainment

Changing Scene Theatre's Summerplay: Keeping tradition alive

When in the business of theater and feeling a budget crunch from a slumping economy that has hit both the box office and production costs, the no-brainer decision would be to stage a summertime, feel-good fan favorite in hopes of bolstering the ticket count.

The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, along with many other small theater troupes around the county, are most undoubtedly feeling that crunch these days. But the Changing Scene is staying true to it’s ethos and readying for the premier of Summerplay 2008: A festival of new works, slated for Aug. 8-23 in the upper room of the Panda Bay Inn on Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

It’s not that organizers at the Changing Scene have bad business sense or an economic death wish, given the notoriously meager turn outs for new works, they are simply true to their roots.

Their Summerplay Festival spring boarded from the Summerplay Festival at the Changing Scene Theatre in Denver, the theater which was the impetus for the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest’s creation six years ago, artistic director Pavlina Morris said.

“I came here with their philosophy to start this theater,” Morris said. “And Summerplay is one staple from the original theater that I wanted to carry on.”

Summerplay was a huge event in Denver, she said. Festival-sized crowds flocked to see premieres of new works from local, regional and national playwrights.

Here, it’s been met with a smaller response, though it has developed a bit of a following in the Changing Scene’s corner of the Northwest.

This year will be the sixth annual Northwest festival of one-acts — somewhat of a unique institution.

“There’s not a lot of venues that do what we do at the Changing Scene, premiering new and independent works anyways, but there’s even fewer festivals available for one-acts,” Morris said. “The thing about Summerplay is that it’s a great festival for the summertime ... it’s just so nice to have little snippets of something you don’t have to concentrate on for too long.”

All of this year’s Summerplay one-acts are about 10-minutes in length. The four plays with 15 characters and four directors are being produced by a small group of six from the Changing Scene and will premiere at the unusual venue of the Panda Bay Inn restaurant and lounge.

That choice of venue, Morris said, came down to the idea of stretching the entertainment dollar for patrons. With Summerplay being hosted at the Panda Bay Inn, theater-goers will be able to get a meal and their entertainment, and even a few drinks, all in one place on the evening.

“We’re just doing everything we can to try and fundraise and get creative in this horrible, awful time for us,” Morris said.

Look for more innovation from the Changing Scene and other local troupes in months to come.

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