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Theater of Intriguing Possibilities at Edmonds' Driftwood Players

The cast of "Loss" (photo by Bob Sears)

Carissa Meisner Smit thinks that new work is exciting. So must pretty much everyone at Driftwood Players in Edmonds, because they have several vigorous programs for new and/or edgier work. The latest offering from the TIPS program is a play by Elena Hartwell, Loss: A Play About a Violin. As is typical for these presentations at Driftwood, it plays a long weekend, from January 10-13.

Meisner Smit, the head of the TIPS program, says Loss is, “A beautiful, funny, and touching new play. Hartwell manages to treat the issues of aging and family with both grace and humor.  Essentially, a widow must confront the loss of her husband  while two brothers come to terms with the lives they have led and the futures in front of them.

“Music is an important part of the play, as her husband had been a successful composer and violinist, and his voice, the voice of a violin, seems to permeate the very house.  We were fortunate to find local violinist Mark Lotz to record for us, and sound designer Arian Smit has masterfully put together a soundscape that mirrors our characters’ emotional journeys.

“Director Diane McClure leads a great cast of five, including  Eileen McCann as the befuddled widow, Dennis Moore and Thomas A. Glass as the estranged brothers, Oscar Valenzuela as a mysterious man in the garden, and Mary Kay Voss as the housekeeper with curious past.”

Meisner Smit describes the other programs Driftwood has. “Our First Draft program helps playwrights develop a finished piece.  A director and cast dramatize the work ‘readers-theatre’ style, giving the author a glimpse of what works and what doesn’t. After the reading, a moderated Q&A session with the dramatist and audience continues to explore the work.

“And our annual Festival of Shorts has been our celebration of theater for the last three years.  After an open call for submissions centered around a theme, 8 short (10-15 minute) plays are chosen to be presented.  Last year we received 87 entries from all over the country, as well as many international submissions.  At each performance, audience members receive a ballot to vote for their favorite short play.  We also invite a panel of adjudicators (theater professionals) to judge and award their own favorites.  It’s a big event, involving 20-30 actors, 8 playwrights, 4 readers, 4 directors, 2 producers, 3 adjudicators, 5 stage crew, etc. – a wonderful way to end an exciting season of theater!”

While Driftwood has a “main” season, Meisner Smit says the difference in content is led by economic realities of small non-profits.  “Main Stage needs to bring in the money and be commercially successful, things any person would want to see. Then we have my program, which is more dedicated to new works but also to resuscitating contemporary voices, perhaps edgier work from Off-Broadway stages, for instance, that deal with women’s issue or other social issues. If the main stage is presenting one kind of flavor, it gives me some freedom to explore other opportunities for things directors might love to do but are less economically viable.

There are two more opportunities to see “Loss” tonight and tomorrow.