Squeezin' Out the Talent

Who woulda thunk it? Charlotte Jones has been writing plays for years, but Madame Knavery, a work about a fortune-telling gypsy's encounter with a representative of the Better Business Bureau, has turned out to be her breakthrough effort.

"I've submitted before," she says, "but this is my first one to be accepted, so I'm very excited." The play was chosen to be produced for "Squeeze Plays 2003," the Fan Factory Theatre Company's collection of nine short works by local writers, directors and actors.

Will Shepherd, the company's president, says "Squeeze Plays" gives theater folks -- especially novices -- the chance to demonstrate their talents. "New people can experience theater from the inside," he says. "And patrons get the chance to see a new crop of artists."

Not all "Squeeze Plays" participants are new to the theater scene, though. The lineup features a work by Joe Watts, the artistic director of Theatre New West. In Mornings, a dead guy's best friend and his lover, who've never gotten along, meet at his grave site and discover that the deceased had some secrets. "I can't wait to see what they've done with it," says Watts. "I can't wait to see if they got it."

Though the selection committee didn't set out to pick a group of plays bound by a particular theme, the works have some uncanny similarities. Tony Esparza's The Cemetery also features a conversation at a graveyard. And in addition to Watts's play, two others have titles containing the word morning. In Morning After, a character named Kate wakes up from a one-night stand to an awkward situation. And in Morning Conversation, a woman discovers her hubby's been cheating.

Shepherd hopes the production reminds Houstonians what kind of town they're living in. "There's the realization that there's talent here in your own city," he says. "A lot of the time people see theater as being something that comes from New York or L.A. or someplace else. This is a chance for people to realize that it's not only produced here but created here."

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28; and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 29. Midtown Art Center, 1423 Holman. For information, call 832-465-4563 or visit www.fanfactory.org. $8 to $10.

 
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