Who: Marla Manning is the founder of Silent Echo Theatre Company in Sisters, producing its fourth annual production of one-act plays, “Now You’re Talking …” at The Belfry, 302 E. Main Ave., Sisters. The production features eight 10-to-20-minute original plays making their Oregon premieres. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday, seven of the plays will perform at a reduced price. Advance tickets are $15, $12 students and seniors and available at bendticket.com. Tickets at the door are $18, $15 students and seniors. Contact: silentechotheatercompany.org or 541-719-8862.
Q: This is the fourth year of “Now You’re Talking …” How did it get started?
A: When I moved here, my goal was to start a theater company in Sisters, but I didn’t know anybody here yet. I went to a radio show with the group SCORE, Sisters Classic Old-Time Radio Experience … and I basically said to them, “I know I’m new here, but I want to start a theater company.” They didn’t look at me like I was totally crazy. Angela Lund and Lisa Fetrow, both of whom are now on our board, invited me to talk to them because they had been thinking about maybe doing a one-acts festival. I said, “How about we collaborate on the first one and then see how it goes?” … I knew these playwrights, most of them, from back East, or I had been referred to them from back East, because I moved here from Connecticut in 2015. … We did the show at The Belfry the first year, in 2016. And it’s grown in the last four years. We were hoping to have our own space this year, and certainly we’re really hoping we will happen by next year.
Q: What’s holding it up?
A: We’ve been waiting because the space we want needs to be converted from retail to assembly codes, zoning, you know, permits. We’re at The Belfry again, so that at least we have a presence. The playwrights are from all over the country (including) a New York City playwright, Connecticut, Alaska and Oregon.
Q: Anybody local in the mix?
A: Yes, Persephone Vandegrift. We actually did one of her plays last year, as well. She has written one of the plays and is acting in a different one. … They may not be WORLD premieres — some of them are, some of them aren’t — but every play we’ve ever done is an Oregon premiere.
Q: Can you tell me a little about the plays people will see this year?
A: Persephone’s involves an AI (artificial intelligence). She’s actually a woman that works for the main protagonist, and she’s behaving in a way that the main protagonist didn’t expect, so it causes all sorts of mystery and intrigue. One of them is called “No More Writers,” by a New York City playwright. It’s basically about a guy who is being interviewed by Homeland Security. He was pulled aside when he was getting on a plane because he had a book full of creative writing, and creative writing has been outlawed. … Another play has no words. It’s called “The Memento.” It’s set during the ’40s after World War II, and you see this woman sitting on a park bench. This guy is trying to get her eye, but you can see that she’s very serious about something. And then a woman comes along to bring her something. … It’s all acted by the performers. And you figure it out from the acting and the music. One of them is called “Reflection.” … It’s a woman therapist. Her clients are very unusual. This particular client happens to be a vampire who’s seeking counseling. … And then this year, a woman I know from back East wrote her first play. It’s a series of eight vignettes that we’re going to have in between all the other plays, and Julee Vadnais plays this woman going on eight different blind dates, and Jason Medina plays all eight blind dates. It’s going to be in between all the other plays. And of course the acting talent is local from Sisters, Bend and Redmond.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin