Arts & Entertainment
Playwrights unite for 'Eight by Ten'
Originally printed 8/21/08 (Issue 1634 - Between The Lines News)
It was pure serendipity that Douglas resident Bill Muzzillo should spend the winter in Florida, be cast in two plays with Sarasota's Theatre Odyssey, meet several important playwrights, bring their plays to Saugatuck's Red Barn Playhouse and mount southwest Michigan's first 10-minute play festival, "Eight By Ten."
"It was an awesome experience to be cast in those original plays last winter," said Muzzillo in a press release. "In Florida it was a playwright competition, but I knew these plays were tailor-made for The Red Barn, and this 10-minute play festival will be strictly theater entertainment for our loyal audiences."
Muzzillo's acting attracted the attention of several Florida playwrights, all of whom generously contributed scripts, so that he could produce "Eight By Ten" for The Red Barn Players. Playwright Rick Hughes was the first to offer his hilarious "The Gang's All Here." to Muzzillo. Additional contributing playwrights included Michael Phelan, John Bohane, and Eva Slane, whose autobiographical "Forgotten Memories" chronicles her escape from Hitler's invasion of Vienna, at the tender age of ten. "It was an honor to portray Eva's father in the world premiere of 'Forgotten Memories,'" said Muzzillo. "I'm thrilled to include it in 'Eight By Ten' for local audiences to see.
Consisting of eight 10-minute plays, "Eight By Ten" also features local playwright Linda LaRocque's romantic "Final Draft." Her full-length play, "Revival At Possum Kingdom Community Church," was produced at The Red Barn in 2006, and co-won first place as Best Play for the state of Michigan in the 2007 CTAM Theater competition. "As soon as Bill told me about his plans for 'Eight By Ten,' I polished up 'Final Draft' and offered it to him," said LaRocque.
A special surprise for Muzzillo was the unlikely encounter with playwright, Larry Parr, whose delightful, one-woman tour de force, "Veronica," has been included in "Eight By Ten." Sent to him by an actor friend in Florida, Muzzillo eagerly studied the script, and set his goals on finding Parr for permission to produce the play. Forwarding an e-mail note to the Florida playwright, Muzzillo not only received permission from Parr, but also discovered that Parr is originally from Sturgis, Mich., and had his first full-length play, "Hi-Hat Hattie," produced at The Red Barn in 1991.
Muzzillo, a retired professor of English and Literature, works at The Red Barn as an actor, musician and coordinator of the popular Film Studies program. When asked about the unique 10-minute play format, he said, "It's like unexpected bolts of lightening on stage - a roller coaster ride for the audience and actors. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced in the theater before."
"Eight By Ten" is scheduled to be presented at The Red Barn at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 21-23 and 28-30. The Red Barn is located at 63rd and Blue Star Hwy in Saugatuck. For information and reservations, call 269-857-5300.