The Group Rep’s “Nine Winning One-Acts”

“Nine Winning One-Acts” has become “Nine Winning One-Acts” – Online!!  

Written by Bruce Bonafede, Craig Holland, Clara Rodriguez, Kris Rasmussen, Jim Geoghan, Bara Swain, Adam Kraar, Pamela Weiler Grayson and Ron Burch.

Directed by Linda Alznauer, Barbara Brownell, Bert Emmett,  JC Gafford, Helen O’Brien, Tom Dugan, Kathleen Delaney, Tom Lazarus and Marc Antonio Pritchett.

Running online only from October 10 through December 1. FREE admission!

“Moonless Night” –  Marie Broderick, Doug Haverty. Image by Doug Engalla.

Each year the very fine folks at the Group Rep Company hold a playwrighting competition.

The top nine plays selected are then produced at their theatre, the Lonny Chapman Theatre, in the NoHo Arts District.  Obviously this year, this terrible Covid year, the shows could not be produced in the usual way. But rather than give up on the whole thing, they’ve adapted.

Simply and creatively produced, with honesty and humor and in the long standing tradition of the thespian, brave.

These plays have become something startlingly beautiful.  It’s all in the ‘try’ I think, whenever art is as it’s absolute best.  The effort and the sweat and the hope is what makes it worthy and honorable and why it becomes so important to us all.

“Phubbing” – Gina Yates, Mark Stancato, Van Boudreaux, Bita Arefnia. Image by Kadri Koop.

The best art isn’t ever perfect, it doesn’t strive to be.

Humans, in case you haven’t noticed yet, are far from perfect.  So when we write and perform, I always think that it is everything between what we think is our best work that is ultimately the most powerful part.  These nine plays, so artful, so purposeful and so individual, are made all the more special by the efforts the Group Rep has made to get them out in the world, no matter what.

“Shoe Story” – Fox Carney,  Clara Rodriguez.  Image by Clara Rodriguez.

Bugger Covid! It has kept us all holed up in our warrens, apart from each other and unable to experience humanity in its most profound, at the theatre.

I must see hundreds of plays each year and I have to admit that it has, on occassion, felt like a little too many. But curse me for ever saying such a thing, even under my breath. For now I have gone without a play since March and I am longing for them.  Where is the dusty squeaky seat.  Where is the lack of parking, the hand printed program, the same sofa they used in the last production? The ill fitting costumes, the half empty seats, the sudden hush before curtain, the shuffling off stage, the electricity in the air so heavy you could shave with it.  Oh how I miss each and every actor, good, bad and bloody brilliant. I miss the the getting ready for, the coming home from, the anticipation, the laughter, the tears, the humbling.

“Suspension” – Harley Walker, Marc Antonio Pritchett. Image by Doug Engalla.

All theatre isn’t always good, of course.

The Group Rep, however, is always wonderful and filled with actors thrilled to take part and productions created with love.  But even the so so play is always heaven sent. To witness bravery and hard work and total commitment from a group of humans originating in every part of the nation and sometimes the globe, all pulling together to make magic. It’s a privilege, truly. So I am thrilled to see the Group Rep do what it does best, create.  Giving space to writers and actors and directors and artisans of all kinds and letting them become who they were born to be.

“The Next Ivan Sharansky” – Barbara Brownell, Stan Mazin. Image by Doug Engalla.

This group of plays is just as inspirational and wildly different from one another as every other year’s “Nine Winning One-Acts” production that I have seen.

Making them into films is almost an afterthought really. They are still plays, which is important because film is such a very different zeitgeist.  Themes as disparate as dating a smartphone addict, heartbreak over shoes, a chance encounter on a misty bridge, awkward older dating, over analytical breakups, bonding over breasts…

The genius of this selection and the way some are shot as films and some put you right back in the theatre itself, is a lovely, if possibly accidental way of comparing the genres.  I like both styles. The play versions seem to work best for that particular material, the films for theirs, and the couple of Skype formats work perfectly for the premise of those stories.  But they are all well worth your time. Funny, provoking, illuminating and weirdly wonderful.

“Unfathomable” – Sascha Vanderslik, Anastasia, Burnett. Image by Bert Emmett.

“Nine Winning One-Acts” will be available for FREE, yes FREE, until December.

So you have absolutely no excuse whatsoever not to watch them.  The one good thing about all this time at home is the endless binge possibilities it allows, without the hang up of the explanation or the phony excuse.  We are all in this together, never really lost and alone, even if we are more than six feet apart at all times. Bravo!!!

Donations welcomed.  For links to the festival show and more information please visit or call 818.763-5990.

“Unicorn Park” – Larry Eisenberg, Susan Priver. Image by JD Mata.

Co-produced by Helen O’Brien and Sascha Vanderslik, shot and edited by Doug Engalla, Bert Emmett, Kadri Koop, Tom Lazarus, J.D. Mata, Marc Antonio Pritchett, and Carla Rodriguez;  with original music by Marc Antonio Pritchett.


T. Ryan Brennan, Katelyn Ann Clark, James J. Cox, Matt Lorenzo, Torrey Richardson, Sal Valletta, Marie Broderick, Doug Haverty, Bita Arefnia, Van Boudreaux, Mark Stancato, Gina Yates, Fox Carney, Clara Rodriguez, Karole Bennett, Marc Antonio Pritchett, Harley Walker, Barbara Brownell, Stan Mazin, Larry Eisenberg, Susan Priver,  Kathleen Delaney, Beccy Quinn, Sascha Vanderslik, Helen O’Brien and Anastasia Burnett.