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The show must go on, and on, and on!

The Act One: One Act Festival, which presents 26 different dramatic works by playwrights from all over the United States, will take place at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City from Jan. 12 through Jan. 28.

Each play will make its world premiere during the two weeks, and each one will be performed six times.

The short pieces have a wide variety of themes, exploring everything from interpersonal relationships to politics. One play looks at Japan’s utilization of female sex slaves from Korea during World War II, while another takes on police brutality. Lighter works focus on cat calling, Marlon Brando’s favorite desert, and the meaning of “suggested donation.”

The festival is organized in a competitive format with four categories, and the audience will vote to determine the winners for Best Play, Best Director and Best Actor/Actress with the finals on Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $15 a piece in advance, but $18 at the door. A $55 four-show package is available.

A list of all the scheduled plays with short descriptions and times follows.

Program A (Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15, 5 p.m.; Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.: Jan. 22, 2 p.m.; and Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m.)

  • “Comfort Woman” by Steve Gold: A Korean woman is kidnapped and forced into prostitution by Japanese men during World War II.
  • “72 Hour Energy” by Laura B. Londagin: A pathetic soap opera addict gets some much-needed advice from a TV spokesman.
  • “Last Exit Before You’re Off The Grid” by Jason Lasky: What do people really need to survive: Food? Water? Cigars? How is it that there’s so much garbage in the world and no one taking responsibility for it? Set on a patch of desert sometime in the future, a despondent drifter’s encounter with an armed hermit woman in the trash will answer these questions and spark some new ones, too.
  • “Chairs” by Louis DeVaughn Nelson: The Annals of Sharon is a collection of episodic theater works centered on the antihero, Sharon, a bicoastal, 40-something, polyamorous arts administrator navigating her way through a variety of ordeals involving a motley group of lovers.
  • “The Hunchback of Marshall Avenue” by Randy Gross: A lonely businessman encounters a misshapen man during his daily walks to the train station and discovers the true meaning of beauty.
  • “No One Should Ever Talk About Their Feelings” by an unknown author: Two lovers have an epic fight during a blizzard. When they realize that they share one extremely important common trait, they remember why they’re together.

Program B (Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15, 8 p.m.; Jan. 21, 2 p.m.; Jan. 22, 5 p.m.; and Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.)

  • “Millennial Discourse” by David Loughlin: On a business trip to Philadelphia, commitment-phobe Emma is challenged when her cat-loving co-worker and present lover, Anthony, asks her to marry him.
  • “eat” by Ami Shibasaki: Everybody likes food, but for Laura and David, food has special meaning. This is the day when they finally meet.
  • “Suggested Donation” by Duncan Pflaster: During intermission of a community theater show, Bill takes the suggested donation for a glass of wine literally.
  • “The Bench” by Patrick Vermillion: Three bench-warming quarterbacks get a chance to shine when a particularly mean opposing linebacker takes out their teammates one by one. With a chance to play and finally be the hero, each one sees a different meaning in the game at hand.
  • “Duderonomy” by Seth Freeman: The last few guys to leave a class reunion are challenged by the striking way in which some things have changed.
  • “Treffpunkt” by Natalie Lifson: World War II veteran Richard is struggling with survivor’s guilt. In a café in Switzerland, he comes face to face with a fellow veteran, Henry, who helps him come to terms with his experiences.
  • “The News, The News, The Terrible News” by Michael Perrie Jr.: A dark satire about fake news as a kind-but-gullible Southern family becomes the hot topic of an absurd news cycle.

Program C (Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 21, 5 p.m.; Jan. 22, 8 p.m.; and Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m.)

  • “Krill” by Jon Sobel: In the wake of a natural disaster on the other side of the country, two strangers meet in a city park and try to wrap their brains around what’s happened.
  • “Prodigal Father” by David Loughlin: Norman Simowitz is a high-powered advertising executive with a deep, dark secret. His daughter confronts him about it.
  • “Versions” by A.A. Garcia: Two cosmic forces are held together by the ever-changing form of their relationship.
  • “Four New Years In Japan” by Steven Haworth: Ben must fulfill his mother’s dying wish or she will curse him from beyond the grave. As distractions threaten his ability to oblige, his life unravels.
  • “Breakfast Babble” by Samuel Plotkin: A dysfunctional family has a breakfast conversation on a son’s first day of college. They have vastly different perspectives on life.
  • “Kain’s Curse” by Jonathon Ward: Officer Patrick Kain is in prison for shooting an unarmed teenager. In his nightmare, Reverend Able Foreman is put in the cell with him, having been arrested for agitating a riot that followed the shooting. They went to the same high school in a small town called “Paradise.”
  • “Peas in the Fried Rice” by Larry Rinkel: Three co-workers always have lunch at the same place, same day, same time, and same food. When one diner suggests something new, his picky co-worker, who hates green food, refuses to go anywhere that serves peas in the fried rice. Hilarity ensures after the owner of their regular eatery adds peas to the fried rice.

Program D (Jan. 15, 2 p.m.; Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 21, 8 p.m.; Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.; and Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m.)

  • “Brando Sundae” by John Michael Jalonen: Two actors share a late night snack and commiserate about their careers, keeping hopes alive by relating to Marlon Brando.
  • “Leopard” by Bradley Hildebrandt: A young man travels to Atlanta to kill the boy who broke his heart. Along the way, he meets some interesting people.
  • “Electric Chapel” by Rachel Kang: Welcome to 2016 Brooklyn, where a recent transplant starts on a path of self-discovery with a little help from a 7-foot-tall drag queen and Mariah Carey.
  • “Baby Blue” by Steven Carinci: A doctor wants to transplant the highly functional eyes of a terminally ill cancer patient to a 17-year-old who was blinded in a car accident. Another doctor argues that this would be legally and morally reprehensible. The patient, who believes his cancer is in remission, delivers a scripture-laden monologue on how each man must accept his fate as only God makes such life-and-death decisions.
  • “The Return” by Sean O’Leary: As they prepare to leave for dinner to celebrate the wife’s successful return to acting, a husband and wife discover that they have different dreams. They are left with no other option than to be true to themselves.
  • “Cat Call” by Jeff Ronan: A catcalling incident escalates into all-out war when recently fired Emily reaches her breaking point. The situation quickly gets more complicated when both parties reexamine the encounter and the choices that led to it.

Images courtesy of The Secret Theatre


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