The Studio Theatre Tierra del Sol announces ‘snack-size’ plays

Nathaniel Niemi, resident director at The Studio, directs a play called “23 Opinions No One Wanted” by Britta Willis, during a Zoom session with other actors.

Over the past few months, The Studio Theatre Tierra del Sol has satisfied theater cravings with virtual offerings for patrons to enjoy from home. Soon, the local blackbox theater will add another item to the menu.

Beginning Friday, The Studio will introduce Snack-Size Plays: a bite-size digital theater experience. Each week, patrons can access 10-minute virtual play readings for free on Facebook, YouTube and thesharonstudio.com.

The plays are in tandem with The Studio’s virtual play reading series, which staff have been producing to stream online since May.

“The response has been overall quite good,” said Whitney Morse, artistic director of The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center as well as The Studio.

“We thought it might be nice to offer something for folks who don’t have as much time to commit to an online offering, so we dove into the world of 10-minute plays.”

Selected by a committee of 11 Studio and Sharon staff members, the plays will cover themes like relationships, life and death, child rearing and societal pressures, Morse said.

At 1 p.m. Friday, patrons will get their first taste with “Negotiating the Elusive Perfect One Night Stand” by Jason Parker Green, described as a “modern day mating dance,” by The Studio’s website.

The committee has so far chosen the first 12 titles, some of which will make patrons laugh while others might have them shedding a tear or two, said Morse.

As ever, The Studio is sticking to its mission of inspiring its viewers to examine relevant issues through innovative storytelling.

“We are just doing it online now, and in just ten minutes,” Morse said.

With each title, The Studio recommends a snack pairing — pretzels and beer nuts for “Negotiating the Elusive Perfect One Night Stand,” and dark chocolate for the Oct. 2 title, “After the Beep.”

Other titles include “23 Opinions No One Wanted” by Britt. A. Willis and “The Game” by Louise Bryant.

In addition to starting conversations, resident stage manager Grace Zottig said the new medium will allow The Studio staff to branch out creatively.

Zottig has directed a few plays in the Snack-Size series.

“Myself and other staff members who typically work behind the scenes have had the opportunity to direct.

Some members have learned new skills such as video editing, and others have been encouraged to step up into new leadership positions,” Zottig said.

Nathaniel Niemi, resident director at The Studio, said the short length means a lot is crammed into each of the plays, each requiring specific aesthetics and style choices.

“There are a whole bunch of fun genres,” Niemi said. “We get to play with a bunch of styles and genres that we normally don’t.”

Niemi said some of these plays “are wacky and silly.”

“One that I directed was just a list of opinions that we turned into a mock-commercial,” he said.

Niemi is also directing The Studio’s first crack at puppetry.

“(That will be) super-fun,” he said.

 Morse hopes the plays give patrons the chance to take a break from whatever they are doing, or whatever is occupying their head space, and escape into a little bit of theater.

“Each one will be very different, so if you don’t like it one week, you might love it the next,” Morse said.

Staff writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or liz.coughlin@thevillagesmedia.com.