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Tapas New Short Play Festival serves up comedy, drama in 10-minute bites

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If You Go

What: Tapas New Short Play Festival, presented by the Pegasus Theater Company

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 13-28

Where: Masonic Lodge, 14040 Church St. Guerneville. Enter theater on Third Street

Admission: $15-$18; pay what you can Sept. 13 and 20

Tickets: 1-800-838-3006, petasustheater11.brownpapertickets.com

Information: pegasustheater.com

List of plays

“Grilled” by L.H. Grant, Darlene Kersnar

“Solar Flares” by Stanley Rutherford, directed by Ed Brown

“Heroes” by Susan Jackson, directed by Scott Kersnar

“Lady M. Visits the Dermatologist” by Margy Kahn, directed by Lois Pearlman

“Stuff,” by Darlene Kersnar, directed by Lauri Lippin

“Executive Order,” by L.H. Grant, directed by Sharon Hawthorne

Why would Lady Macbeth go to a skin doctor? To get rid of her “damned spot,” of course.

As Shakespeare fans know, trying to wash invisible blood off her hands drove Macbeth’s ambitious wife mad, but in one of the six 10-minute plays to be presented at the Pegasus Theater Company’s 13th annual Tapas New Short Play Festival — aptly titled “Lady M. Visits the Dermatologist” — she tries a more medical approach.

“The concept is funny, and we’re really working with it and being silly,” said Lois Pearlman, director of Menlo Park playwright Margy Kahn’s “Lady M” and founder of the Tapas festival.

Since 1998, the Pegasus company has performed at various venues around the Russian River area, most recently at the Masonic Lodge in Guerneville. It launched the Tapas fest — named after the Spanish-style appetizer — in 2006 after Pearlman saw a similar program on a trip to Washington state.

“I was excited about the idea of putting a bunch of short plays,” she said. “I saw it as a good showcase. It’s a genre of its own. People are doing these 10-minute plays all over the country.”

In terms of drawing and holding an audience, the super-short comedies and dramas have some unique advantages in the era of cell phones and social media.

“Audiences tend to have shorter attention spans now, not to put them down,” Pearlman observed. “They’re not going to sit through a two-hour show unless it’s absolutely compelling. With the short plays, if you don’t like one, you don’t have to wait long for another one.”

The format also has its appeal for the theater community.

“It gives lots of actors, directors and playwrights a chance to show their work,” she said. “There is something wonderful about working with playwrights and getting to meet them.”

Pegasus pulls out a call for short scripts every February or March, with a submission deadline of April. The company generally receives about 75 scripts, as it did this year, a gratifying response for a relatively small theater company. Submissions come from all over the greater Bay Area, from Ukiah to Sacramento to Palo Alto.

“A lot of playwrights are so appreciative of having their plays produced, and we get some pretty professional scripts submitted,” Pearlman said.

Casting can be a bit more challenging, since the river area is a long commute for many actors, she explained.

“We generally get fewer men auditioning. This year we had only women, so we have an all-female cast,” she said.

In addition to directing “Lady M,” Pearlman also will perform — as “an obnoxious deli owner” — in “Grilled,” written by L.H. Grant of Davis and directed by Darlene Kersnar.

Kersnar, who lives in Guerneville, also has her own script in the festival and well as coordinating the overall effort this year. Kersnar’s “Stuff,” directed by Lauri Lippin, has been produced previously by Pegasus and was revived this season to fill out the lineup, since all-women plays became a priority.

Pegasus and its Tapas festival are run by its board of directors rather than a single director, Pearlman explained.

“It’s a team effort, but one person is overseeing all the pieces,” she said. “Darlene has her eyes on everything this year.”

The other Tapas plays include “Heroes,” written by Susan Jackson of San Francisco and directed by Scott Kersnar (Darlene’s husband), “Solar Flares,” written by Stanley Rutherford of Camp Meeker and L. H. Grant’s “Executive Order,” directed by Sharon Hawthorne.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

If You Go

What: Tapas New Short Play Festival, presented by the Pegasus Theater Company

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 13-28

Where: Masonic Lodge, 14040 Church St. Guerneville. Enter theater on Third Street

Admission: $15-$18; pay what you can Sept. 13 and 20

Tickets: 1-800-838-3006, petasustheater11.brownpapertickets.com

Information: pegasustheater.com

List of plays

“Grilled” by L.H. Grant, Darlene Kersnar

“Solar Flares” by Stanley Rutherford, directed by Ed Brown

“Heroes” by Susan Jackson, directed by Scott Kersnar

“Lady M. Visits the Dermatologist” by Margy Kahn, directed by Lois Pearlman

“Stuff,” by Darlene Kersnar, directed by Lauri Lippin

“Executive Order,” by L.H. Grant, directed by Sharon Hawthorne

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