Active Cultures, the self-proclaimed “vernacular theatre of Maryland,” regularly turns its attention to some of the stranger myths and true-life tales of the region. Maybe that’s why, since 2009, the troupe has annually examined the world of sports: Is there a better microcosm of human drama than the playing field?
This weekend at Round House Silver Spring, Active Cultures is grouping six of the best short plays from its “Sportaculture” festivals into a single program: “The All-Stars.” Mary Resing, the company’s artistic director, believes the audience for the “Sportaculture” shows is made up of more sports fans than theatergoers. For that reason, she says, the plays tend to come from a fan’s perspective.
The plays are eclectic. Resing paired up with Jessica Burgess to write “Medley Relay,” a musical about four relay swimmers. The production’s dramaturge, James Hesla, penned “Long Shot,” a love story involving a bowling alley and a Washington Bullets game. The Nats are featured in two different plays: “America’s Pastime” by Mary Waters follows Dick Cheney as he throws the first pitch; and “Catch” by Michael John Garcés dabbles in some post-reason wish fulfillment. “To the Redskins With Love” by John Xander Yi looks at the gender dynamics of watching football. And “The Gridiron: Adventures from the Sideline” by Thembi Duncan follows a touch football game in which a rookie plays the sport by his own rules.
Active Cultures performs in several local venues, but it’s staged all three of its “Sportaculture” festivals at the Riverdale Park Arts Festival in Riverdale, Md. “We’ve been wanting to partner with Round House and they support small theater companies in their Silver Spring space, and it seemed like a good thing to do,” says Resing.
Because the focus of “Sportaculture” is so universal, it made sense to revive the plays this fall for a “best-of” performance. Hesla says, “There are so many issues, deep personal, cultural, psychological issues with being a fan of a sports franchise.” Believe us, we know.
The fourth “Sportaculture” takes place next spring. You can submit work here.
Sportaculture: The All-Stars takes place 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Round House Silver Spring. All performances are pay-what-you-can.