Jimmy Dix and Mig Windows appear in writer Ron Burch's “Albert Einstein's Brain.'

Wildly insightful visions of life

Seven short comedies by West Coast playwrights — the winners of Ashland Contemporary Theatre's annual writing competition — will be presented as "Moonlighting 2013," a series of readings staged by the theater company.

The winning writers include a Hollywood screenwriter and an award-winning Seattle playwright, along with five veteran and novice local writers. The readings are directed by Evalyn Hansen, ACT's interim artistic director, and ACT members Will Churchill, Karen Douglas and Lyda Woods.

"Moonlighting 2013" will be presented at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 29-30, at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way. The readings also will be staged at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 6-7, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.

"Get set for tears of laughter with these wildly insightful visions of everyday life," Hansen says.

Screen and television writer Ron Burch's "Albert Einstein's Brain," directed by Woods, explores the dangers of online bidding. Burch has co-written two feature films and episodes for the television series "The Closer," starring Tom Selleck.

"Here to Serve You," by Seattle playwright Barbara Lindsay and directed by Churchill, takes a farcical look at airport security. Lindsay's plays have received multiple awards and have more than 100 national and international productions to their credit.

"The Last Dodo and the Last Wooly Mammoth," is by local writer Dori Appel. Directed by Hansen, the play portrays a prehistoric couple facing a cruel reality. Appel's works have been produced worldwide, and several of her full-length works are available through theatrical publishing company Samuel French Inc.

"Motherhood," by local playwright Archie Koenig and directed by Churchill, is a humorous look at the effects of genetically modified foods on our children. Diane Nichols' "Tigers in the Entry," directed by Douglas, explores the power interior designers have over their clients. Bob Valine's "Doggies," directed by Hansen, explores a couple howling in their bedroom.

Woods also directs her own play, "Invisible," described as "a fetid way to escape middle age."

Woods and Douglas will appear in the seven plays, along with Joe Charter, David Dials, Jimmy Dix, Mig Windows, Gloria Rossi, Michael Serface and Tom Wyner. Jeff Golden will host and narrate.

ACT's short play competition, posted on its website in early March, drew 25 submissions from up and down the West Coast. The selection committee of ACT board members — Hansen, Woods and former ACT Artistic Director Jeannine Grizzard — took six weeks to read the scripts and select the winners. (Woods recused herself from voting on her own submission.)

"The seven plays are a good blend, and we are thrilled that playwrights outside of Southern Oregon submitted work," Woods says. "It's good for ACT and local writers to have contacts in a wider theater community."

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online at www.ashland-contemporarytheatre.org or at the door. Doors open 30 minutes before the performance.

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.

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