Wednesday, November 2, 2016

After Orlando at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center.

I went to a rehearsal for After Orlando which is part of Play Fest at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The stage floor in the Margeson Theater had beautiful postcard painted images of fall foliage from New York and New England. After Orlando consists of a series of short one a c) plays that are about recovery and loss after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. A table was set up with scripts and other materials. Each rehearsal had to be short and succinct. There was a small green hat made out of paper that had green triangular leaves as a brim. The theater tech explained the she was going to be a strawberry for Halloween and the hat completed her costume.

The first play, O-Town written by David Lee is a simple narration that describes Orlando in such a way that any tourist could identify with. It was reminiscent of Our Town. Landmarks and people are identified as they are on a typical day, and then how they will be changed after the shooting. A homeless man takes is upon himself to relight all the candles at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts make shift memorial. A merchant creates thousands of rainbow ribbons that are distributed around the world. The Center is faced with an incredible challenge after the shooting and they rise like a phoenix to meet the needs. 

In another play two men chat playfully. One is a professional boxer and he doesn't want to be seen being affectionate in public because it would make him seem weak. His partner, found on Tinder, is playful and flamboyant. He wants to go to the club, but the boxer is resolute and wants to stay in. They share a connection that goes beyond sexuality. Music fills the room and the playful partner danced with abandon trying to encourage his stoic partner to join in. When he leaves to go alone to the club, his partner begins to sway to the beat, alone. It becomes clear that one of them might not live to see the next day. 

In another play, three men interact inside the club. They are celebrating life and poking fun at American culture that ignores their Latina culture. the in playful banter is endearing. As they dance, one of them freezes looking out into the audience. Then the other two freeze to see what sees. Each in turn falls backwards, as if hit in the chest, while letting out a loud staccato beat box vocal. They turn away from the audience. After a long pause, they each say their name and age. It was a sobering moment.

There were more plays that needed to be rehearsed, but I slipped out and drove to a friends. On the drive, I saw children dressed as skeleton's and zombies as they pillaged a neighborhood for candy.  Orlando has faced a very real horror. Seeing the children wandering in the dark was strangely reassuring.

PayFest, runs from November 3rd to the 6th.
PlayFest offers you the rare opportunity to participate in the development of new plays. Converse with playwrights, directors, and actors while absorbing groundbreaking new works. This four-day event tears down the barrier between artist and audience, putting YOU at the heart of the process.
Your input is vital to the extended life of new plays. Many audience favorites from PlayFest have been developed into full productions in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Signature Series!
This season we’re dedicating PlayFest to six new plays plus a special reading of The Laramie Project. All selected plays explore issues surrounding the Pulse tragedy that occurred in Orlando in the early morning of June 12, 2016.  In selecting plays for the weekend, we’re concentrating on plays that explore the following issues:
  • LGBTQ struggles and responses to violence and hate
  • Discrimination against Hispanics/Latinos and efforts for acceptance and inclusion
  • Terrorism acts
  • Mental health and gun violence
  • Individual and community responses to mass violence
  • Individual Reading Tickets: $10

  • Click here to book individual tickets for PlayFest Readings. General Admission Seating.

Save now with a PlayFest Package!

  • PlayFest Pass $49 per person (Value: $70)
    See all 7 Readings and save with a PlayFest Pass! Click here to book a PlayFest Pass.
  • PlayFest VIP – $100 per person
    Want to make sure you get one of the best seats in the house?  We’re offering the opportunity to upgrade your PlayFest Pass to VIP status to ensure a reserved seat for all six new plays and The Laramie Project.  Become a PlayFest VIP to reserve your seat up front in one of the first four rows of the Margeson Theater. Click here to become a PlayFest VIP.
  • PlayFest Patron – $250 per individual
    Reserved seating in the front rows of the Margeson Theater, complimentary drink tickets, special recognition in the program, and a private event with the PlayFest playwrights. Make your experience a memorable one! Please email for more information.
Make a commitment to new plays! Call the Box Office at 407-447-1700 ext. 1 for more information. All Passes Expire November 12, 2016.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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