Chris La Mantia went through an array of emotions the first time he saw a play he’d written come to life on stage.
“When I watched my play being performed for an audience for the first time, I was more nervous than if I had been on stage myself,” said La Mantia, whose work will be featured for a second time in Quickies: Augusta’s Original Short Play Festival at Le Chat Noir. “When the audience started laughing, I actually had tears in my eyes. In theater, our purpose as actors and directors is to tell a story, to move an audience, but this time, it was my story being told.”
La Mantia’s debut at Quickies last year was with a short play called The Fourth Wall, which also placed first in the 2016 Porter Fleming Literary Competition. His Quickies’ offering this year is a comedy called Under Underlings. Set in the lair of a James Bond-type villain, the story focuses on the people who keep the place in operation; the ones who make sure the payroll is taken care of and the toilets are kept clean – those people on the bottom rung of the villain ladder.
La Mantia said writing and directing his new play has been a lot of fun, and he hopes the audience will enjoy it.
“My lead actress, Christena Painter, gets to play a wide range of emotions as she deals with her gung-ho partners while just trying to stay alive long enough to be eligible for dental,” he said.
There are nine short plays in Quickies. Each one lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.
“There are a lot of different styles of theater. They are shorter and the action moves to keep everything tight. It’s like a theater buffet, if you will,” said Jezibell Anat, Quickies coordinator and playwright of Miss Julie Don’t Like No Strangers, a horror piece that is also part of the festival.
Anat said the format is great for theater patrons because if they don’t like one play, they can stick around for another that might be more to their liking.
The play festival began in 2010. This year’s event has several works by award-winning playwrights as well as some who’ve only written one play. Anat said plays are submitted to the selection committee, but the playwright’s name is removed from the work before it’s judged so the judges don’t know who submitted it.
There were so many entries this year that the committee had to turn away good work, she said.
“It’s a great showcase and training ground, and the quality keeps increasing,” she said.
Not only is it a way for playwrights to have their work produced, but often it’s a place where directors get their first shot at directing and new actors get stage experience.
Quickies will be performed at 8 p.m. April 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (706) 722- 3322 or visit lcnaugusta.com.