During what's usually a slow time for the arts scene, the South Carolina Repertory Company is introducing a flurry of plays over the next two weeks.
The third annual New Play Festival starts Aug. 10 at the north-end theater. The series is followed by the second annual Celebration of the Short Attention Span, which starts Aug. 16.
The New Play Festival consists of three plays culled from authors across the country. One play is performed each night. The set-up is a bit different from a typical festival. The plays are all considered works in progress, and the audience gets a chance to help in the development of the piece. They are performed as staged readings, then afterward the audience gives its feedback to the playwright directly.
"It becomes a very useful tool for the playwright," said Nick Newell, co-festival director with Katie Rasor. "I've found the Hilton Head audiences to be very open, engaging and honest about the work they've seen."
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In the past, the festival has served as a stepping stone for future success. Alum Steve Harper, whose "Urban Rabbit Chronicles" was put on last year, now is writing for the USA Network show "Covert Affairs." South Carolina playwright James Rasheed debuted "The Baristas" at the festival, reworked it and saw the full version performed earlier this year at the theater.
"The goal is to bring new, interesting work to Hilton Head Island," Newell said.
The Celebration of the Short Attention Span festival isn't new work, but the theater's take on the pieces are unique, said organizer Blake White. White helped develop the idea two years ago when the theater was largely sitting dormant during the summer.
The festival is donation-only, so the actors are volunteers. That brings a different vibe to the festival, White said, as the performers are there for the fun of it, not for a paycheck, and are willing to experiment and try new things.
The festival features six plays, each put on by a different director.
"What I like about this format is that if you don't like the one you're watching, don't worry -- another one will start soon," White said.