It’s time for SOAPfest, again (at West of Lenin). This is the third iteration of a group of shorter plays (each in the 30 minute range) presented by The Sandbox Artists Collective. Hence, Sandbox One Act Play festival. Sandbox, a membership based collective of working theatre professionals is a growing group of mid-career artists. They strive to work together in various ways to support their careers.
The shorts fest submission were from their group of members, and this year, Carl Sander, a playwright (among other talents) and Vincent Delany, a playwright working to make a living as a playwright, are joined by Phillip Lienau, known primarily around Seattle as a set designer and teacher.
Phillip’s play is Chosen Less, about a chance meeting between two men that helps them understand that they’ve chosen a lesser life. Phillip says, “Both characters thought they were doing the right thing or that they had no other choices. They weren’t conscious of choosing a lesser life. Until this moment.
“I am interested in reconciliation and people who believe that reconciliation with another person is impossible, because the differences are too great. I’m interested in challenging the idea that it’s ever impossible.
“You’ll see that there is reconciliation between some characters and not between others. The play asks whether people together could find a way to reconcile, admitting the incredible difficulty and the small sense of success and the great pain in finding any other way. To say nothing of the pain that exists in the current way.”
Amy Love, organizer, says, “It’s a compact story, a two hander and it’s rich, and elegantly and simply told. A great one act is going to have a full story and get to the punch more quickly. It’s complete in its scope just like a full length. Phillip managed to pack a great punch in a 30 minute play.
“The conversation made everyone who read it identify with it. We’ve all, as artists, seen ourselves as going after our dream. One character follows a dream and the other follows a more conventional path. It’s a very real situation.”
Phillip and his husband, Jeremy Crawford, came here about seven years ago from the Bay Area. While Phillip acted and stage-managed around San Francisco, his degree was in architecture, and he was able to meld it all together with an MFA in Scenic Design from San Francisco State.
He reports that Jeremy acted in college and is a theater lover, but no longer a practitioner. Jeremy works as a lead designer on Dungeons and Dragons products for Wizards of the Coast, the reason they made the move up here.
Aside from providing sets for diverse companies here, Phillip also has designed and built for Seattle Opera’s Scenic Studios. He also teaches set design at the University of Washington and mentors student designers in their projects.
Phillip says, “It was an experiment for me to teach. I had to make up all my classes, and what I found to my great relief is that I have a natural affinity for it and it was not difficult. It was a challenge to convey the information, but I could figure it out. I learned I was talented at it. I’m probably more talented at that, I found, than most others areas of my life.”
You would recently have seen his sets if you saw Seattle Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, or last year’s Jerry Springer: The Opera by (now-defunct) Balagan Theatre. Next, he’ll do sets this summer for Sound Theatre Company’s Indian Ink and Theatre22’s Wizzer Pizzer.
Phillip hasn’t been play writing that much. In fact, after becoming a Sandbox member, he submitted a couple of 12-year-old plays to last year’s festival and though they weren’t accepted, he says they gave great feedback and he was emboldened to try again with something new.
“I am learning a great deal about the playwriting process and about myself as a storytelling artist. I do want to continue to write for the stage, and hope to see some of my other work produced in the future.”
The best day of his life, Phillip says, was his wedding last year. After 18 years together, they were finally able to plan a wedding when Washington made it legal. Since most friends and family needed to travel here, it took awhile to plan. And while most family embraces him and Jeremy, Phillip’s mother still doesn’t and that was, Phillip reports, part of the genesis of this particular play.
His tip, if you’re going for local venues, is: reception at Sole Repair and catering by Plum!
If you want to see his play, and the rest of SOAPfest, tickets are available HERE. Shows are from Wednesday, June 3 through Sunday matinee, June 7.
Las Cruces, by Vincent Delaney, directed by Julie Beckman
Not far from the casinos and the spaceport, Sheridan is camped out, hiding in a gutted trailer. Everyone knows he’s there, but no one knows why. Except maybe a card player named Soledad.
Chosen Less, by Phillip Lienau, directed by Kelly Kitchens
A chance meeting on the street is revealed where two men learn the hard way that leaving is not the same as escaping, and that dreams can change in the chase.
Why Do We Keep Broken Things, by Carl Sander, directed by Tim Hyland
It’s 2011 in Seattle: Mike McGinn is in office, Bertha is in Japan, pot is illegal, and the Occupy Movement is camped in Westlake Park. Five inhabitants of the city by the Sound collide in a kinetic collage of civics, sex, and estranged friendship, leading us to ask why some things change and others stay the same.
WHAT: Sandbox One-Act Play Festival
WHEN: Wednesday, June 3 – Saturday, June 6 at 8pm; Sunday, June 7 at 2pm
WHERE: West of Lenin, 203 North 36th Street, Seattle, WA 98103
TICKETS: Available through Brown Paper Tickets. Walk up sales begin at West of Lenin at 7pm. $20 cash or check only at the door.
Featuring Haley Alaji, Eric Ray Anderson, Christine Marie Brown, Randy Hoffmeyer, James Lapan, David Anthony Lewis, Amy Love, Trevor Young Marston, Terry Edward Moore, and Mary Ethel Schmidt.