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Write your own play for the John Drew Theater

Joe DeSane and Molly McKenna in a staged

Joe DeSane and Molly McKenna in a staged reading under the lights at "The Drew." The Naked Stage will present readings of five 15-minute plays in its Fest o' Fives, Dec. 14, 2010 at Guild Hall's John Drew Theater, East Hampton. Credit: TNS Photo

You have five days to write a play. OK, it's only a 15-minute play. But still. Are you ready to let it all hang out - your creativity, that is - on The Naked Stage?

The actors, writers and directors who play in this theater laboratory based in Guild Hall's John Drew Theater - East Hampton hipsters know it simply as "the Drew" - thrive on taking chances. (The Naked Stage takes its name from the bare stage, one without sets or dramatic preconceptions about the work.) Loosely supervised by producer Joshua Perl, they've been taking risks most Tuesday nights for the past seven years. The ensemble includes Josh Gladstone, artistic director of the Drew, and Joe DeSane, Kate Mueth and Joe Pallister, frequently seen in East End productions, plus a dozen other regulars and occasional special guests.

The usual Naked Stage suspects display their courage in such happenings as a marathon of plays wrapped around Memorial Day weekend. They've re-created radio plays, Greek tragedies and new works by New York authors looking to refine their plays into artistic, if not commercial, successes. (Thanks to the support of actress Dina Merrill and her husband, Ted Hartley).


Thursday, The Naked Stage launched its latest experiment - Fest o' Fives. Perl's latest brainchild is loosely inspired by the "Seinfeld" episode "Festivus." As you may recall, celebrants of the un-holiday holiday referred to it as "Festivus for the rest of us."

"The marathon was fun," Perl says, "but only college kids on break have time for that."

So Perl sent out the word via social networks for prospective grown-up playwrights. "In 100 words or less, tell us 'I've always dreamed of seeing my work on the Drew because . . .' " The theme: holidays (even Festivus). Perl received dozens of e-mail responses. Among them: "I've always dreamed of seeing my work on the Drew so that my life's not a walking shadow, but a proud player strutting my 15 minutes upon the stage. To be heard at all. In a tale told by a playwright, full of sound and fury, signifying something. Something!"


Perl picked five winners. Each was given a setting for his or her play and three actors to work with. The assignments went out yesterday. Deadline is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the first of five plays will be performed free at the Drew.

"We want our audience to feel they're part of what we do," Perl says. "This is a chance for them to feel the thrill of being under the gun - in a positive way. Art is a serious business, but sometimes the outlandish is a good thing."

WHAT: The Naked Stage's Fest o' Fives

WHEN | WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Guild Hall's John Drew Theater, 158 Main St., East Hampton

INFO: Free;, 631-324-4050

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