Roy De La Rosa & Ellie Archer in Mother’s Day. Photo: Zac Campbell-Hoogendyk

Amioz Shotz! April Fools Edition

Various writers & directors

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Amioz Shotz!, more commonly known in the local community as simply, Shotz! has been happening in Louisville for a couple of years. In the Bluegrass version of a NYC initiative, six writers are invited to write a 10-minute play in two weeks using a set of prompts. Then the plays are cast and rehearsed in 14 days for a one-night-only performance (actually twice in one night). 

Such a short running time tends to favor sketch comedy or a tidy exploration of a funny idea, and on April 28, the “April Fools Edition” did offer a lot of fun, but also the most serious Shotz! entries.

The prompts were: a digital tone that sounded slightly like “doink”, the line of dialogue, “April showers bring May flowers,” and the use of a hobby horse prop. You know, the horse’s head on the end of a pole.

Department of Community Reports, written by Stephen Morrow (dir. Alex Biscardi), was an absurdist attack on bureaucracy for its own sake, played with energy by Lucas Rogers, Rachel Meadors, and an especially sure hand at slapstick from Ryan Lash, who made arguably the best use of the hobby horse. It was a lively start

Allie Fireel’s Zac and Sara (dir. Zach Stone) introduces the title characters as two close friends, both lesbians, who experience a strain in their relationship through time, distance, and misunderstanding. Fireel effectively establishes a contrast between the two women that is concisely reinforced in the casting of Mandy Hutchins and Paula O. Lockhart

A very different kind of pairing occurs in Amy Davis’ First Flight (dir. Clarity Hagan). More comic than Fireel’s piece, Zach Stone and Laura Krauser play two strangers headed toward a witches’ coven, each expressing apprehension. It’s a “meet cute” but Davis doesn’t push for a romantic connection, and Stone and Krauser enthusiastically play it.

Midsummer Nightmare, written by Erin Fitzgerald and Justin Harmon (dir. Roy De La Rosa), is one of the more straightforward pieces of the program, as two scene partners prepare for their next acting class. Jessica Sharpenstein wants to work and Gavin Reed sort of doesn’t. It’s a tidy dissection of clashing acting/personality techniques.

Another more serious and introspective piece is Zac Campbell-Hoogendyk’s Peakaboo, a young girl’s coming-of-age monologue delivered by Bailey Preston in a bit of a bravura turn. The sensitivity of the observations may seem surprising coming from an adult man but as Campbell-Hoogendyk is parenting a daughter we may assume it is well-informed, and Meg Caudill as director certainly is a key factor in making it all feel authentic. That the piece was structured as brief sections made the most effective use of the “doink” sound cue as demarcation.

Finally, a bit of Grand Guignol is offered with Betsy Huggins’ Mother’s Day. And although Vidalia Unwin is listed as a director and not a writer, her taste for the outrageous is present here. Roy De La Rosa as a manic, eager-to-please employee in “Kid’s Kingdom”, Meg Caudill as a properly judgmental “perfect” mother, and Ellie Archer as a first mom struggling through post-partum life all effectively captured the specific but universally understood cultural war taking place here. I’ve never been a parent, but even I have heard these stories from women, and Huggins’s observations are not exaggerated, even if her bloody finale is.

Although the format has always proved entertaining If I am ranking all of the Shotz! I have witnessed this evening’s program could have been stronger. Does the restrictive format inspire more daring and risk-taking? That’s hard to gauge, but Shotz! tends to provoke a freewheeling sense of foolhardy courage

As for the prompts; the hobby horse was used well, but I didn’t feel any of the plays were able to do much with the “April showers” line.

Amioz Shotz! April Fools Edition

April 28, 2024

The Bridge Theatre
The Whirling Tiger
1335 Story Avenue
Louisville, KY 40202

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA 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