Allie Fireel, Rachel Meadors, & Katie Swain in The Violin Lesson. Photo:

Spring Shorts: Seven Plays by Seven Playwrights

Directed by Geoffrey Nelson & Sarah Elston

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2022 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Can less be more? When is a short play not a play? How deeply can you engage an audience in roughly 10 minutes? These questions are always on my mind when I watch a program of short plays. 

Buy A New Tent by Rachel Meadors was a warm and funny tale of a harmless act of rebellion by two University of Louisville undergrads. It nicely captures the rapidly-formed freshman friendships that ignore or overcome the differences in social and economic stature, which always seem to return in the most inopportune moment. The writing is well-observed, although the subject seems limited, yet it does realize its idea enough to count as a play.

Beau Howard’s The Morning After captures two men in 1962 after they have spent the night together. What is fresh about it is that they argue about their identities in ways that may seem illogical to some. It’s Harold’s house and he is adamant that he is not homosexual or queer just because he has sex with Paul, who initially appears to agree. The fear and self-denial of a closeted life are succinctly rendered and are a useful reminder of how far LGBTQA+ lifestyles have come and how far they can still go.

I Got You – But Do You Know by Jordon Moore was intentionally enigmatic about its narrative, but the twist about the fate of hikers who signed on to a unique outdoor experience was still predictable. I did enjoy Katie Swain’s work as the guide, Robin.

Meta levels of theatricality are on Ross Just’s mind with Curtain Call, a goofy merging of genres in which a dead cast member offstage stops a Victorian-period production in its tracks. When an absurd detective figure attempts to take charge of the “investigation”, the slapstick humor comes fast and loose. The concept runs a little thin before the end, but Allie Fireel’s satirical male-posturing performance as the detective keeps the ball in the air.

The Proposal by Katie Swain was a fairly basic exploration of young love and Post-Modern relationship dynamics that also felt curiously dated. It was well acted by Thomas Farless and E.J. Lauter, the latter’s quality more impressive for being a last-minute substitute forced to take the stage with a script in hand. In spite of that, Lauter felt at home with the dialogue and played effectively off of Farless’ narcissistic character.

Humor was present in all of the writing, but the serious themes of Tajleed Hardy’s Don’t Do Drugs Kids are why it was one of the strongest pieces, as a women’s support group called Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA) welcomes a new member, setting off a round of personality conflict that eventually leads to understanding and empathy.

The Violin Lesson by Flora Schildnecht is an example of an intriguing idea begging to be explored in a longer format. The wife and daughter of an aging man recovering from a serious stroke struggle to care and/or contain him. With the use of digital graphics and projections to suggest an interruption in reality or our perception, Schildnecht is trying for something bolder than 10 minutes will allow. The results of neurological disruption often remain a mystery, and the notion that creativity and imagination might be spurred to new levels by such an event could bear the weight of a lengthier play, one I hope this playwright is working on.

Like most shorts, these either whet your appetite or leave you feeling unsatisfied for one reason or another, but the exercise of ideas that may not be ready for prime time is always a meaningful endeavor. 

Spring Shorts: Seven Plays by Seven Playwrights

April 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, & 17 @ 7:30 pm 
April 10 @ 2:00 pm

University of Louisville Theatre Department
University of Louisville Playhouse
South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40208

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for