By Nicole Itkin

5 plays. 10 minutes each. This is the Estrogenius play festival in Under St. Marks: a tiny, but lovely theater. Here’s a look at the five plays:

 

  1. Uber by Maura Kelley

“This is my first Uber.”

“Well, they’re not all like this.”

This play takes on a quick little trip. Along the way, the elder dispels advice to the younger (along with a burger. What’s an Uber ride without a side trip?). Throughout, our Uber driver is phenomenal, her acting so concentrated in her eyes, her character convincing and maybe slightly conniving but just trying to help. No, it’s not the most original script. But it has heart and pain and real attempts at friendship within given confines.

 

2) I Keep Leaving Parties Early by Amelia Kennedy

“Sex burns out like a cigarette,” one of the girls notes.

And so do parties, and so does most else.

We meet three girls: Livia, Cass, Faye, all trying to convince themselves they know what they want and what they’re getting is what they want and wanting, even, is enough. (The unspoken subtext is clear: …right?)  This is a piece about desire, and disappointment, and the perhaps inevitable ways the two intersect. It’s inevitable to them all, even at such different ages (Livia is 28, Cass is 16, and Faye is 42). They all convey the pitfalls of disappointment so well. But there’s something so convincing about Cass’s performance, her youth and energy so perfectly bundled up and thrown out at the audience. She is the picture of hope at every given moment, and you can’t help but feel desperately for her.

 

3) Two Truths and a Lie by Zoe Fernanda Wilson

“Death is inevitable, and we cheat it everyday until we don’t.”

Here, we see two people on a playground, sitting a little too close to each other, refusing to say much of anything that matters to them, that’s close to their hearts. They sing instead, as a shield, as a way of avoiding their feelings. It’s cool choreography, each action meeting its counteraction, nerves and desire ping ponging back and forth between each other. But… how old are they? Who knows. They’re on a playground, nervous and young, but talking like adults. It’s a strange mishmash that just about takes me out of the story– though the writing pulls me back in.

 

4) Between wave and water by Alethea Pace

“I’m just telling some stories,” he tells us.

“What,” he asks, “is the distance between here and hell?”

“I drew a line in the sand because the ocean thinks it can cross me”

He tells us stories. Maybe he never tells us the truth, but most all of what he says is truthful. The entire scene just keeps rising, the stakes getting higher and higher even if we don’t quite know what they are. It’s all billowing out at us, but with depth to it, with heart. And, listening closely to the lines, there imagery is stunning, absolutely stunning throughout.

 

5) Not a Mermaid by Dana Leslie Goldstein

Here, the world is divided in two: the water versus the not water part. We meet two sisters trying to make do with this division, a divided world that most don’t reckon with.  They try to find each other, but what’s there to find? What’s there to find when they’re in such different stages of their lives, want to be in such different places? And even if they find each other, in water or on land, can they understand why they’re so far apart?

 

These plays were fast; we peered inside one and then we were thrown into the next. But it’s a cool festival with a great message. Running until March 30th at Under St. Marks. Tickets ($15-$30) available for purchase at  www.estrogenius.nyc and www.frigid.nyc.

 

2024 EstroGenius Festival 10-Minute Play Series at UNDER St. Marks (94 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009). Presented as part of the 2024 EstroGenius Festival: EXPAND, a performing arts festival celebrating (stellar) womxn, trans and gender non-conforming artists.

EstroGenius Festival is an annual celebration of the artistry of femme, non-binary, non-conforming and trans womxn artists produced by Melissa Riker and maura nguyễn donohue. The Festival includes guest curator John C. Robinson and Short Play producer Vincent Marano. Founded as a short play festival in 2000 at Manhattan Theatre Source by Fiona Jones, EstroGenius exists to present the voices of dance-makers, playwrights, experimental performers, teens, musicians, burlesque performers, noise artists, filmmakers, dj’s and anyone else looking to break molds and crack gender codes to the stage, street and forefront of public attention. EstroGenius 2024 is possible in part to generous funding via 2024 NYSCA Support for Organizations through New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, along with the generosity of John C. Robinson, Vincent Marano, maura nguyen donohue and our individual donors. www.estrogenius.nyc

FRIGID New York’s mission is to provide both emerging and established artists the opportunity to create and produce original work of varied content, form, and style, and to amplify their diverse voices. We do this by presenting an array of monthly programming, mainstage productions, an artist residency, and eight annual theater festivals that create an environment of collaboration, resourcefulness, and innovation. Founded in 1998, the aim was and is to form a structure, allowing multiple artists to focus on creating and staging new work and providing affordable rental space to scores of independent artists. Now in our third decade we have produced a massive quantity of stimulating downtown theater. www.frigid.nyc