365 Days/365 Plays: a breezy and enjoyable collection of skits

Full Circle Theater Co., performing at Penumbra, through June 11

Elizabeth Cates and Ashwanti Sakina Ford in 365Days/365 Plays. Photo by LK Bachman.

Full Circle Theater Company, presenter of Suzan-Lori Parks‘s refreshingly unpretentious 365 Days/365 Plays, lists, in the program, “Co-Artistic Directors” – Rick Shiomi and Martha B. Johnson. As well as a “Core Artistic Group” – James A. Williams, Stephanie Lein Walseth and Lara Trujillo. These folks have directed 365 Plays (Harry Waters, Jr, a guest, nicely rounds out the directorial contingent).

This Core Artistic Group makes Full Circle something less than a collective, but more than the usual (and rather dull) hold-auditions-cast-the-play-and-let-the-director-direct theater. Full Circle is a welcome addition to the scene here in the twins: modest, diverse, a home for early career artists. Shiomi (who seems to be in firm control) reins in his people and they do simple, unostentatious, straight-forward work, with just the right zip of energy.

For their second full production, Full Circle mounts 46 (I believe) of Park’s 365 Days/365 Plays. This is, imo, 10 too many. I found the evening tiring. Lights up, skit, lights down. 46 times.

Still, this show is breezy, funny, entertaining, and displays off the considerable skills of the cast. And some of the plays pack a real punch: The Presidents Day Sale, The Birth Of Abraham Lincoln, Reel, Remember Juneteenth. To name only a few.

Full Circle has assembled a first rate cast for 365 Plays. I hate to laud standout performers – Ricardo Beaird, Shana Eisenberg, Siddeeqah Shabazz, for example – as the whole cast is very good. This is due in large part to the intelligent work of the directors.

365 Days/365 Plays is a play for theater lovers, a balance to the pretentiousness of the flying G (or even Penumbra). The Guthrie is good, ditto Penumbra and CTC, but do add Full Circle to your list. They deserve your support – and we need their sweet passion.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. Please visit his informational website.



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