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Queens Chronicle

Self-produced plays at The Secret Theater

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 4:57 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2019.

The ominous warnings should be enough to guarantee a crowd: “Some subject matter may be offensive or triggering. Some plays include physical violence and gun shots. Discretion is advised.”

This is the 2019 edition of the annual LIC One-Act Festival, a series of self-produced plays presented by The Secret Theatre in Long Island City from July 10 through Aug. 17.

Among the dozens of entries are some that deal with murder, rape and violence. But don’t worry. There are plenty of performances that are perfectly suitable for the entire family.

Eight different programs are featured in the festival, each consisting of approximately a half-dozen plays, none running more than 20 minutes.

And what a variety of works they promise to be ... at least if one is to judge based upon some of the titles and brief descriptions.

“The Con-Dumb,” by Lawrence Francis, runs the maximum time, and is said to be about a cult-like sales leader who scams a nitwit applicant.

Then there’s “Wolfe vs. Redding,” by Timothy Gadomski, a 16-minute piece that is described as a modern-day adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Some of the entries seemingly could have been ripped from today’s headlines. “Raided Premises,” NT Bompart’s 15-minute contribution, concerns the Stonewall riots, as the son of an arresting officer comes out to his unaccepting father.

Randy Lee Gross wrote a 12-minute play, “Cross at the Border,” in which a Guatemalan immigrant is confronted by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent.

And in “Two Boys by a Coffeeshop,” Alaina Hammond’s 12-minute piece, two women — one white, one black — discuss the murder of the black woman’s son at the hands of a police officer.

Among the shortest entries is the 10-minute “Critical Affairs,” by Elise Marenson, in which a senator and his former lover/protegee are political opponents.

Other intriguing story lines abound. Larry Rinkel’s 12-minute-long work, “Brian’s Poem,” concerns an elderly man who travels a long distance to find the only memento of the boy he once loved.

“Delacorte,” another 10-minute piece, is Michael Piatkowski’s tale of two actresses who prepare backstage for a production of “Hamlet” at the title theater in Central Park.

David Gill’s “Fault Lines,” running 14 minutes, could prove controversial; it involves an argument about who’s to blame for the suicide of a young gay man.

One of the more imaginative works is quite likely “Among Us,” by Les Epstein. In this 11-minute play, a lawyer discovers that he has been reincarnated as mold.

At least one playwright, Seth Freeman, is represented by more than one play. He contributed “The Argument,” running 11 minutes, about a young woman who travels to Jerusalem to keep a personal sacred promise but is thrown off balance.

And in his “Tombstone,” a 12-minute piece, a couple is concerned when a suspicious package shows up on their front porch.

The festival is designed as a competition, and each program will offer audiences the opportunity to vote to determine the finalists.

Four categories are up for grabs: Best Play (which offers a $100 prize to the winning playwright), Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress (each coming with a $50 award).

The semi-finals are scheduled for Aug. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., with the finals on Aug. 24 beginning at 7 p.m.

Finalists will be offered a chance to be nonexclusively published in The Secret Theatre’s Anthology of Short Plays.

Festival performances take place on different nights of the week; times vary.

LIC One-Act Festival

When: Festival performances are on different nights of the week; times vary.

Where: The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23 St., Long Island City

Entry:$20 at the door; $18 in advance. (718) 392-0722, secrettheatre.com.

Welcome to the discussion.