By Ann Reily
---- — Much like New England weather, the joy of a collection of short plays is that if you’re not crazy about what you’re seeing, wait a minute.
And with the variety of themes in “Marc’s Shorts II,” a selection of Executive Director Marc Clopton’s works being presented at The Actors Studio this weekend and next, there’s sure to be something to please every palate.
“Not everyone likes every one, but that’s not the point,” Clopton said. “It’s a fun kind of play to write because you have to get everything in in 10 minutes.”
Plots of the seven plays range from funny to dramatic and involve a marriage proposal that is derailed by a medical emergency, a couple seeking to explore a higher plane of consciousness, women reflecting on their marriages, a trip inside the human consciousness, a young man meeting his father for the first time, an abused wife confronting her situation and an encounter between historical figures.
“They’re all quite different,” said Clopton, who added that his writing process also fluctuates. “Some just sort of pop into my head and I write them down. Others, I’ve worked on and reworked them. The length of time spent on each one varies dramatically.”
Besides choosing which plays he wanted to use, Clopton is keeping himself out of the production and performance process.
“I am completely hands-free on this one on purpose so that the directors have their free rein in interpreting it, the actors have free rein to develop their characters,” he said. “And it’s my chance as a playwright to see what they do with the material.”
For example, in “Arte Liberate,” director Arlene Barnard decided to take the relationship between Pope Julius II and Lucrezia Normanni out of the 15th and 16th centuries and into modern times.
In his notes about the play, Clopton shares that he found this “quite fitting.”
“As we watch contemporary corporate culture wreak havoc in our economy and with effective government, I see disturbing, repetitive patterns from history,” he wrote. “It seems, no matter what century, a few ambitious and morally bankrupt individuals can derail otherwise-well-meaning institutions and leave a permanent scar on society.”
Clopton also sees the collection of plays as an opportunity to highlight the skills of the Newburyport studio’s many theatrical team members in one place.
“For us at The Actors Studio, where we’re training people, it’s a great way to showcase the talents of all our directors and all of our actors,” he said. “Everybody does it for their love of the art, and that’s a pretty amazing process.”
The first “Marc’s Shorts” was presented in 2011 to celebrate the studio’s 20th anniversary and featured 14 of Clopton’s short plays.
If you go
What: “Marc’s Shorts II”
When: Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.; Oct. 13 and 20 at 5 p.m.
Where: The Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St., Mill 1, Suite 5
How much: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students
More information: 978-465-1229 or www.newburyportacting.org