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On Stage

Timing is Everything

Performing under the gun

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Putting on plays is hard work. Typically, weeks (or sometimes even months) of memorizing lines, rehearsing, staging, costuming and much more are required to make a theatrical venture audience-ready. Of course, there are exceptions to the rules.

Bellingham’s iDiOM Theater and Upfront Theatre have both made names for themselves by not always adhering to the dramatic playbook. The iDiOM’s turnaround time for putting its mostly original works on stage is wicked-quick, and, as an improv-focused venue, the Upfront is consistently creating new works out of thin air. Read on for a few examples of upcoming gigs the two venues will be producing this month that show timing is everything.

“Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?” queries the online shout-out for the 35th 48 Hour Theater Festival happening Jan. 4-5 at the iDiOM. The answer, “for you,” is indicative of just about everything the iDiOM produces at its downtown headquarters. For those who haven’t been privy to the brain-splitting antics of the dozens of festivals, the logistics go something like this: On Thursday night, teams of playwrights, actors and directors are given a theme. Playwrights write feverishly through the night and then hand off their short plays to the director and actors in the morning. By 8pm Friday evening, as many as six new short plays having to do with the aforementioned theme are staged for the audience’s viewing pleasure. There’s a 10pm performance, and then the craziness starts all over again. Come Saturday night, a new lineup of plays will sparkle brightly. It’s insanity at its finest. When: 8pm and 10pm Jan. 4-5 Where: iDiOM Theater Cost: $10 Info: http://www.idiomtheater.com

When it comes to improvisational comedy, there are games that are “sure things.” These formats have been tried and tested, time and again, in front of audiences, and are guaranteed to elicit claps, laughs and an occasional “whoopee!” In “Improv Evolution” shows—which happen both this weekend and next—teams of improvisers head to the stage with brand-spanking-new improv formats that have never been seen before. What this means for the audience is that they’re going to be seeing something that nobody else ever has. Not each format will turn out to be worth keeping, but those that hit the right notes with pleased patrons will likely come back for encores and, in time, may also become “sure things” themselves. When: 8pm and 10pm Jan. 4-5 and 11-12 Where: Upfront Theatre, 1208 Bay St. Cost: $8-$10 Info: http://www.theupfront.com

By the time you watch the short films at the Quickshot Film Festival at the iDiOM Theater later this month, teams will have been hard at work for the past two weeks putting them together. Much like the 48, all the films will follow a common theme, and all will have been produced in a limited time frame. It’s exciting filmmaking featuring all-local casts, directors and camera-wielders, and when we say it shouldn’t be missed, we mean it. When: 8pm Jan. 17-19 Where: iDiOM Theater Cost: $10 Info: http://www.idiomtheater.com

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