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'Girl on Girl' gives insights from three local playwrights

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"Girl on Girl"

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The Playing Field Presents “Girl on Girl: 3 Quickies in 1 Hour” in the 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival, and the title suggests some kinky expectations, but, perish the thought because, the evening involves a trio of local African-American female playwrights, each presenting a stand alone piece in the one-hour production.

Kansas City Fringe Festival hosts the play, “Girl on Girl: 3 Quickies in 1 Hour.” But, here’s the twist. Cynthia Hardeman, Michelle T. Johnson, and Teresa Leggard each created individual stand alone plays in a show that highlights stories of life, love and womanhood, according to Johnson.

Hardeman’s work as playwright includes being the 2013 winner of Kansas City’s Project Playwright 2.0 competition, according to her bio for the Fringe Festival. Her works have been performed at the 2012 Unicorn Theatre Gala, the 2012 InTENsity Showcase at Fishtank Performance Studio produced by Frank Higgins. Her play “Truth Be Dead” was chosen as a finalist in the 2012 WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory at Center Stage Theatre in Baltimore, Md., she received a reading at The Unicorn Theatre in 2013 and the original premiere production as “Truth Stands” in the 2013-2014 season at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD. It also is scheduled to have its World Premiere here in Kansas City at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in February of 2015.

"Dueling Doulas" by Cynthia Hardeman, led off the trio of plays. Hardeman created a dark comedy about an expectan mother about to give birth and the mother-in-law that helps explain to her son what is about to happen to his wife and his life. She’s opposed to using a doula and wants her daughter-in-law to have an easy birth and for the baby to not feel the pain an unborn child must feel as the mother screams in pain with natural childbirth.

The scenes between the doula and the mother are priceless and a duel for sure. The show starts very funny but soon darkens to reveal the intent of the author and the pain of motherhood.

Leggard, authored the second of the triple-header, “To Bed.” She is a writer, editor, poet and playwright. Her publications include Number One and Aunt Chloe magazines, as well as the journal Reverie: Midwest African American Literature. Her short plays have been staged in Kansas City at InTENsity 2.0 and the Barn Players 6X10 Festival, and in Washington D.C. at the DC Black Theater Festival. This August she will compete in the third installment of Project Playwright at the Arts Asylum. Leggard is an editor at Hallmark Cards, a member of The Writers Place, and a graduate student in UMKC's Creative Writing program. "To Bed" by Teresa Leggard, and "Riding Backwards" by Michelle T. Johnson. That's the order of the plays too.

The second play, “To Bed,” concerns when is the appropriate time, place, and person for “the” decision to have sex. Two characters give their takes on what a third person should to and reveal their own pasts and thoughts on the matter. In all, the choice and decision rests with the person making the choice. The play is funny and thoughtful and shows two very different perspectives, while the object of their discussion moves in and out of the piece as she works through her personal decision.

The third piece of the triad comes from local playwright Michelle T. Johnson and involves a woman dealing with issues of a past romance gone wrong. While traveling to her former fiance’s wedding, she meets thee people at the train station that provide her with heavenly advice, as if sent from heaven to intersect with her at this stage of her life.

Two women talk to her and help by giving her sound advice from their epxertise. One is clinically trained; the other is street-wise. Both help guide her in making some good decisions. The third person is a conflicted young man facing his own problems and working to move forward.

All the pieces are enlightening, with “Riding Backwards,” by Joyhnson being the strongest and most fully fleshed out. All three playwrights are strong writers and give a good perspective of their characters and situations. The characters are fully developed and worth learning from.

Johnson’s plays have been produced in local playwriting festivals and for festivals in Houston, Texas and Medford, Connecticut. Johnson's play “Wiccans in the 'Hood" was selected for and produced in the "Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival" in New York City in February 2013 and was the sixth best-attended show in the 2013 Kansas City Fringe Festival. Her play "The Negro Whisperer" was in the New Work Series Festival in New York City in October 2013. Also this year, Johnson’s plays “Trading Races” and “Wiccans in the ’Hood” have been produced by Brainspunk Theater of Philadelphia. Johnson's play "Trading Races: From Rodney King and Paula Deen" has been nominated for three awards in the NYC Planet Connections Theater Festival. Her play “Echoes of Octavia” will be produced by KC Melting Pot Theater this August, according to biographical info she submitted.

Give lots of credit to the cast and director for putting all the pieces together so well. The show is well crafter, cast, directed, and performed. The show is a strong piece and very worthy of attendance. “Girl on Girl” is highly recommended.

“Girl on Girl” is directed by Andre Du Broc and stars Davis DeRock, Aishah Harvey, Briana Marxen-McCollom, Petey McGee and Shawna Pena-Downing.

“Girl on Girl: 3 Quickie in 1 Hour” plays: Saturday, July 19 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 at 3 p.m.; Tuesday, July 22 at 10 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 at 8 p.m. at the Just Off Broadway Theater, 3051 Central Avenue, Kansas City, MO, 64108.

Tickets cost $10 with Fringe button, and advance tickets may purchased at the Kansas City Fringe Festival website or at the door of the theater prior to each performance.

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