Ascension Community Theatre is staging a variety show, but there won't be any singing and dancing.

The variety comes in the diverse offerings of its One Act Play Festival starting Thursday, Aug. 22. Six different stories will play out through drama, comedy, horror and romance in a single sitting.

The show is ACT's biennial Second Stage production, and the troupe is getting by with a little help from its friends.

"We asked for local submissions of one-act plays," said Travis Daigle, producing director. "A reading committee chose six, with each lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. We'll stage three, then have intermission, then stage the other three."

Each of the playwrights is directing his or her play.

The first will be Gabby Martinez's "Limbo Row," about three death row inmates.

Martinez said her play was influenced by a 2018 visit to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

"I like drama, and I wanted to write a play that explored the harshness of this reality," she said. "There are men who go to death row at 18 years old, and this is what they face for the rest of their lives, which is sustained through the legal process."

The three inmates in her story represent different eras, the oldest having entered prison in the 1960s, the second oldest in the 1980s and the youngest just arriving on death row.

"I thought about furnishing the cells with beds at first, but then I decided just to put a single chair in each," Martinez said. "And each chair symbolizes the inmate. The oldest one gets an old chair, the new kid gets a newer chair and the guy from the 1980s gets a stool."

Staging may have its challenges, but the most interesting aspect for most of these playwrights-turned-directors is hearing their words spoken by actors.

"It's very exposing," said Sofia Lavidalie, writer and director of "Lonely Awkward Strangers Without Money."

She calls her play a "dramedy," combining aspects of drama and comedy. The story follows two college students on a blind date.

"I'm hearing my own words spoken by other people," Lavidalie said. "I might have an idea of how I think these words should be spoken; the actors have another interpretation. And their way of speaking them makes them better. So, it gives me a new way of looking at my story."

Also on the bill are Logan Viverito's "Catoptrophobia," a detective mystery that leads to a single mirror; Nick Cordona's "Peter's Last Act," about the life of the Bible's Simon Peter; Cody Bourgeois' "Summer Nights," where a mother tells her children how she met their father; and Carson Lewis' "That Shrinking Feeling," about a young scientist who builds a "shrink ray."     

As producing director, Daigle brings the plays together and guides the playwright-directors through the directing process.

"We've found such good writers and directors that my job has been easy," Daigle said. "They know exactly what they're doing. We have a good variety of stories here, so I think I can say that we'll have something for everybody."


'One Act Play Festival'

An Ascension Community Theatre production

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 22-24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.

WHERE: Ascension Community Theatre, 823 N. Felicity St., Gonzales

TICKETS/INFO: $10, (225) 647-1230 or actgonzales.org

Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com