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Local writers pen 10-minute scripts

  • KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS Jack Phillips will have two of his 10-minute plays showcased next month when the Carbon Schuylkill Community Theatre performs "An Evening of Short Plays," the weekend of May 15-16 at The Studio in Lansford. Phillips is…
    KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS Jack Phillips will have two of his 10-minute plays showcased next month when the Carbon Schuylkill Community Theatre performs "An Evening of Short Plays," the weekend of May 15-16 at The Studio in Lansford. Phillips is standing next to a spotlight that CSCT purchased with funds raised at the Cabaret Evening last November. CSCT founder Janet Sager says the spotlight will be a great asset to CSCT productions where ever they are held.
Published April 29. 2010 05:00PM

A local theatre production will have even more local flavor next month, when it features the work of two area playwrights in a series of 10-minute plays.

The Carbon Schuylkill Community Theatre will present "An Evening of Short Plays" on May 15-16.

In addition to published works, three scripts have been penned by local talent Jack Phillips and Al Zagofsky, both of Penn Forest Township.

"Word was circulated among anyone with a previous involvement or interest in CSCT, that we would be actively seeking works by local playwrights for this year's short play event," says CSCT founder Janet Sager of Jim Thorpe.

"Jack submitted three works by dropping them off on my front porch!" adds Sager. "Al submitted his play online."

Sager says she selected plays for the production that would be agreeable to local audiences.

"In other words, subject matter and dialogue that is thought provoking - but not offensive," she adds. "Although this event is not intended for children, anyone over the age of 10 should find it enjoyable."

Phillips' two plays features teachers, a career he is familiar with. He taught at a business school and also taught special needs teenagers.

"The Curmudgeon Business," is about himself, says Phillips, who retired a year ago, and is still trying to get the hang of it.

"It's a story about me, adjusting to retirement. The local curmudgeon, making the transition from productive male to retired male, which is a little difficult," says Phillips.

"It's about me and people I know. You know what they say, 'always write what you know,'" says Phillips.

His second play, "Just Close Your Door" is a snippet of life taking place in a teachers' lunch room.

"Teachers' lunch rooms are always so hurried," explains Phillips. "They can say entire volumes in two seconds. Serious business gets transacted in a teachers' lunch room."

Phillips is comfortable allowing the directors to interpret his work as they see it. He says they have asked to change a few small things, and he is OK with that.

"It's not a finished product until it's on its feet. After I see it, if I like the changes in it if it makes me laugh or if a character is better developed then I may change some things in the play myself," says Phillips.

"I trust the directors. I know that once something is written, every time it is performed, it's going to be a little different."

Phillips says both plays are a small piece of a bigger pie. He plans to expand both into full-length works.

"There is a lot more to say in these plays," he adds. "These were written just to fit the 10 minutes.

Phillips has written other plays in the past, including a full-length script entitled "1843," which was produced in 1993 for Carbon County's Susquicentennial at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.

This year he wrote a series of historical monologues for the town of Selingsgrove, based on famous women from that area.

His theatrical background includes local and semi-professional theatre for the past 25 years, where he has acted, directed, produced, and created sets, in addition to his writing.

Phillips, who has worked with Sager for many years, encourages the public to see "An Evening of Short Plays."

"Please come to the shows and support the theatre," he says. "We need local theatre and Janet works so hard at this."

For Zagofsky, writing is a second or maybe even a third, career. With a masters in management engineering, he is also certified in photography and a trained massage therapist.

After working in engineering, Zagofsky tapped into his more creative side, and works as a freelance consultant in technical graphic design and publishing, and is publisher of the online "Carbon County Magazine."

TIMES NEWS readers are also familiar with Zagofsky's work, as he is a frequent contributor to the newspaper, both with articles and photographs.

While he has written about 2,000 journalism pieces, "If Oklahoma Claims Jim Thorpe" is Zagofsky's first play.

"It actually began life as an essay, and when Janet Sager told me she was looking for a local content play for her 10-minute play program, I told her that I had a piece that could be reframed as a play," says Zagofsky.

The idea for the essay came to him while conducting research for a story about a lawyer claiming the sons of Jim Thorpe, want his body returned.

"I wondered what would the borough do with an empty mausoleum," says Zagofsky.

"Although I can't reveal the hilarious twist that begins to unveil the solution to the problem the Borough of Jim Thorpe would face if the body of its namesake was disinterred and removed to Oklahoma, I can say that two of the most amazing actors are going to win your hearts and tickle your funny bone with their performances," Zagofsky says.

"I wrote about this couple, who are professional wrestlers and have appeared several times on the Jerry Springer Show. They are wonderful."

He adds, "If you see Jim Thorpe as a historic, artsy and ironic town, then you're just the audience the play is written for."

Zagofsky's theatrical background goes back to his college days, when he was a dancer in "Wonderful Town" and "South Pacific." He says his youngest daughter, Debra, is a professional writer and was an award-winning playwright in high school.

"She has been an inspiration for me."

The Carbon Schuylkill Community Theatre was founded by Sager two years ago. It offers several productions during the year for children and adults.

"CSCT hopes to promote an appreciation and enjoyment of live theatre in the Carbon/Schuylkill areas," says Sager. "This extends to our local audiences as well as actors, directors, singers, dancers, and playwrights."

To help further this goal of making live theatre available to all, Sager says there will be no charge for admission to the "Evening Of Short Plays."

"We simply ask that if you enjoy the event make whatever donation you are comfortable with."

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