Quills & Queues: By Angela Howe-Decker

Lately, I've met a lot of covert creative writers. Some are new acquaintances, and some are longtime friends I thought I knew. They work regular jobs by day, but stay up late or rise before dawn to work on their novels, manifestos or plays. If you are a secret playwright, it's time to stand up and and show off your hard work.

The Ashland Community Theater is accepting scripts by local playwrights for its series of short play readings at the Paschal Winery in Talent. Members of ACT and the Ashland Playwrights Project, a group of Ashland playwrights, have produced six such events at the winery and their popularity is growing. ACT will take submissions of short plays (usually 10-15 minutes in length) by anyone with the skills to create one. If accepted, the play will be produced and presented at Paschal Winery at a yet-to-be determined date early in the new year.

ACT is a small but mighty presence in Ashland. Its last two full-length plays, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" and "Taking Sides," were widely acclaimed and noted both for their artistic qualities and use of nontraditional settings. "Lapin Agile" was performed at a café in Talent and "Taking Sides" was performed at the Havurah Shir Hadash Temple on Mountain Avenue. ACT's theater, which used to be housed at Ashland Middle School, is now in search of a new venue. In the meantime, ACT is looking to add to its pool of local writers.

"This community is full of really talented playwrights," said ACT director Jeannine Grizzard. "We want to have a large pool of writers to draw from. I encourage everyone who is interested to send us a play."

The Ashland Playwrights Project is a group of local playwrights who regularly meet to workshop their plays and produce their work. The group meets at the Ashland Public Library on the first and third Monday afternoons of each month. According to Playwrights Project founder Dave Hill, the group offers a low-key space for playwrights and aspiring playwrights to connect with one another and hone their craft.

"We deliberately keep the group informal with no officers and loosely structured meetings," Hill said. "We read each other's works in progress, try to give each other constructive criticism and share writing and marketing tips."

When the Playwrights Project members approached the ACT board about producing some of their work, ACT's artistic director, Michael Meyer, hit upon the idea of using Paschal Winery's tasting room for an evening of short plays.

"We are always looking for short pieces to do, and the winery was a great place to showcase our local talent," said Meyer.

Hill urges local writers to submit their work.

"The productions usually consist of eight or so short plays selected by ACT from works submitted by any local author, not just the members of the Playwrights Project" he said.

Meyer says the company is not looking for any particular genre or theme.

"We look for things that an actor would enjoy playing, that has a good story and good dialog. It has to be something that can be resolved within the time-constraints," he said.

Meyer also emphasizes ACT's need for more work from local writers.

"My focus when I took this job was to put the community back into community theater," he said.

Playwrights who wish to have a play considered for production may submit scripts to Michael Meyer, Artistic Director, c/o Ashland Community Theater, P.O. Box 3284, Ashland, OR 97520, or call Meyer at 840-1527.

Writers who aren't quite ready to submit a play can get help fine-tuning their scripts by attending the Ashland Playwrights Project meetings at the library. For further information about APP, contact Dave Hill via e-mail at davhill@jeffnet.org.