Theater: MadLab's Theatre Roulette

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Numbers are important in roulette. MadLab's version of the game -- a month-long showcase of new plays -- is no different.

Of the 750 plays submitted for consideration, 70 survived a first-round cut. Then a panel of MadLab insiders narrowed that down to 10 scripts. Three different groupings of those plays have been performed on rotating days throughout May as a part of MadLab's Theatre Roulette.

Now here's an important number to remember: Two. That's how many weekends are left to see the show.

This year's lineup tells a mix of comedic and dramatic short stories.

In "Boom, Pow, Oof" by Jennifer Feather Youngblood, average-Joe civilians try to make a meaningful life among their superhero and supervillian neighbors.

"This Almost Joy" by Barbara Lindsay is about an elderly professor who speaks to the audience, thinking that he is an actor in the play. His fellow characters are perplexed because they know the play is actually the man's real life.

The play about the confused professor grabbed the attention of Stephen Woosley, a board member at large for MadLab.

"You get in the process of reading all of these scripts," he said, "and you start to wonder if you'll see anything new anymore. When I read that one, it really stuck out. I thought, 'Wow, this is different.'"

Those coveted "aha!" moments make it worth sifting through hundreds of auditioning scripts. "You learn what works, what doesn't," he said, and the Roulette plays pack a lot of educational punch for those putting on the long bill of plays - actors, writers and directors.

While there are many artistic benefits to putting on multiple plays at once, preparing for them is tedious. Woosley calls the last Saturday of a Roulette cycle "Christmas" because "it is the best day of the year."

This year "Christmas" falls on Saturday, May 28. All 10 plays will be performed, with shows beginning at 2 p.m.

"There's relief, happiness," Woosley said of the staff and cast on that final day, "and some people are bummed they won't be doing their show again."

Will most of them be coming back next year for more MadLab Roulette? The odds are good.

Bet on a good show:

MadLab Theatre

Through May 28

227 N. Third St., Downtown