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Alleyway's 'Buffalo Quickies' goes live online with Sunday brunch series

Rehearsals for “Buffalo Quickies,” Alleyway Theatre’s annual celebration of one-act plays, had been going on for nearly three weeks when the world changed.

The 29th rendition of the event, which features world premieres of six one-act plays, was seemingly canceled just before its March 26th opening.

But the show is going on now with “Buffalo Quickies Live Brunch,” premiering online at 11 a.m. Sundays starting April 19. Each week, one of the six plays – five written by Buffalo playwrights – will be performed by Buffalo actors from their homes.

“All the work’s been put in, it was 10 days from opening and we didn’t want it to just vanish," said Chris J. Handley, Alleyway's associate artistic director. “Because the show had been in rehearsal already and was in a good place, we thought we could still pull this off.”

Handley explained the actors will call in from their homes with his apartment becoming “a little TV studio.” The actors will perform with whatever costumes and props they can jury rig in their homes. For viewers, it will have the look of a Zoom conference with the actors in “little boxes” on their screens.

“I’m really glad people will have an opportunity to see these works,” said actress Kate Olena, who has performed in multiple “Buffalo Quickies” through the years. “I really believe in these playwrights and, as we’ve seen more and more since this whole thing happened, theater artists and artists of any kind are very creative in getting their work out there for the people to see. It’s not something I want to do forever, but it’s great that we are responding to the crisis in this way.”

This is the 14th season of performing in “Buffalo Quickies” for Mike Starzynski, who said he didn't hesitate when he was approached with the idea to do it online by director Joyce Stilson.

“We were weeks into rehearsals and moving along getting everything done and then the shutdown happened. It was a little disappointing because we worked so hard, but it was understandable,” Starzynski said.

“I’ve never done television before, so it will be interesting. I’m more comfortable on stage where you have the ability to move and make things big. We’re gonna stay in little tiny boxes. I’m not a little tiny person,” he laughed.

The first entry in “Quickies Live” is “(The One About) The Nurse and the Gym-Teacher,” about a “rough-and-tumble gym teacher who wants to make her classes wise to the ways of the world.” It is written by j. Snodgrass and stars Smirna Mercedes and David C. Mitchell.

Coming in future weeks are these plays by Buffalo playwrights: “68½ Minutes to Warsaw” by Mark C. Lloyd, “Coffee of Christ” by Justin Karcher, ”Home of the Brave” by Darleen Pickering Hummert and “Return to Mother’s Nest” by Samantha Marchant. Rounding out the lineup is “Three of More” by Collin I. Hood, a Colorado playwright who was the winner of 2019 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition.

The full cast is Olena, Starzynski, Mercedes, Amanda Barsi, Jaimee Harmon, David C. Mitchell and Matthew Rittler.

To watch

You'll find the link to "Buffalo Quickies Live Brunch" at alleyway.com. Since the performances are live and short (only 7 to 15 minutes long) be sure to start watching by 11 a.m. each Sunday.

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