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20th Annual Buffalo Quickies

Kate Olena and Sheila O'Connor in Rebecca Ritchie's "In the Beginning", part of the 20th annual Buffalo Quickies at Alleyway Theatre.

How can two decades pass so quickly?

This week Alleyway Theatre remarkably opens the 20th annual installment of the Buffalo Quickies, an evening of short plays. The event is always one of the most popular and whimsical of the Alleyway lineup and this year will feature six plays.

“The form itself is such a terrific way to put more playwrights on stage,” says director Joyce Stilson. “And it is a way for audiences to have their theatrical appetites whetted over and over again—six times this year.”

The Alleyway Theatre is devoted to the development of new plays, and so the opportunity to feature six writers in a single evening is an occasion for much joy and merriment. Typically, comedy takes center stage, as the unarguably ribald poster of that promotes the event—featuring two Buffaloes, um, competing in a wheelbarrow race—might suggest.

“There is no theme this year,” explains Stilson. “In the past we’ve done Greek mythology, or sex, or love, or in the 13th year we did 13 plays. One year the theme was ‘theater.’ But this year is very eclectic.”

Stilson then reveals that the Alleyway has gotten a bit sentimental in honor of the occasion. The evening will begin with the first play ever to win the Alleyway short works contest, Rebecca Ritchie’s In the Beginning. Rebecca died last year and her mentor, playwright Manny Fried, who ran the playwriting workshop at the Alleyway for many years, died just last week.

In the Beginning is about Eve. It is many years after the fall, and Adam is long dead. A documentary film crew is interviewing Eve when Lilith shows up. In Jewish mythology, Lilith was the first wife of Adam. The play reflects Ritchie’s interest in Jewish customs and traditions. (Other titles by Ritchie included Shiva Queen and An Unorthodox Arrangement.)

Stilson recalls highlights from previous years:

“I enjoyed As You Liked It, about a school for drama critics called ‘The Addison DeWitt Critics School,’ [taking its name from the George Sanders character in All About Eve] where the motto was ‘Mean what you say and be mean when you say it!’ That was part of our ‘theater’ theme.

“Then the year we had an entire evening of plays with mythological themes. We ended with a 27-second play. The lights come up on two unicorns grazing. They look up when they hear a boat whistle and as they watch the boat pull away one of them says, ‘Fucking Noah!’ Some audiences howled; some just didn’t get it!”

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