Irvington Theater’s Hosts Third Annual Short Play Festival

The Culture Heart of the Rivertowns Beating Brilliantly 


Mercy College hosted the live version of the Irvington Town Hall Theater’s annual Arts Incubator Short Play Festival on the Dobbs Ferry Campus on March 25. It was the third time the event was held, but the first time it acted as a hybrid was a week of virtual readings before the penultimate live reading. Over a hundred people attended the readings that went flawlessly.

The second to last day of the festival featured the only non-virtual performance and recent works. The in-person lineup featured four plays of stunning nature. The Exit Interview by Phoebe Farber showed a man falling apart before his boss, anxiously anticipating the aftermath as he leaves his corporate job. ‘Still, Life’ by Brian Leahy Doyle showed a grieving up-and-coming painter facing his agent’s demands. ‘Freestyle Hand Entry;  by Elise Wien is the tale of someone attempting to get a bag of Bugles stuck in the vending machine in the JCC rec room. The Story of a Daughter by Zoe Howard and Matthew Nassida was a fascinating take on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Story of a Mother’. The Danish Tale was portrayed as a Modern Folk work.

Requiring a free reservation, the only price was captivating and interest in further events. Theater works can be held anywhere, and while some can be classified as conventional, those on the outside can be site-specific. The festival can count as that form of exploration. Play festivals are important platforms for playwrights to expose their work to an audience before they finish the final draft or can go into full production. The writer can internalize the audience’s response, understand what should be added to the script, and hear actors bring their work to life. These readings assist the playwrights to know how they are progressing and having a deeper understanding of the show they are creating.

The lineup was written by four local playwrights, including one of Mercy’s Adjuncts, Professor Brian Doyle. All new, all in development, all of them delivered. All of them were compelling and humorous, sharing exactly what made them stick out from the other submitted plays. The selection process was complicated to analyze what plays would be ready for the festival. Expert “theatre people” conducting in-depth discussions with all the submitted work.

Our institute has maintained an excellent relationship with the Irvington Town Hall Theater with the assistance of Marc Palmieri, our communication professor. The associate professor acts as a bridge for Mercy as a whole, ITHT, and a wider community. He conducted the Q&A after the live in-person readings between the audience and the theatric audience. He remarked it was full of astute observations and terrific questions and clearly showed signs of shared enjoyed experiences.

Our institute has held this excellent relationship with the Irvington Town Hall Theater since 2017. The theatre created multiple opportunities, such as volunteering and internships. The Mercy theatre club had its spring showcase hosted by the theater.

The campus within the villages of Dobbs Ferry is a place of connection and performance. Settled in an area perfect for arts programs, making them neighbors to the ITHT program. The Irvington Town Hall Theater was still in the process of renovation. So there was a choice to aid the third annual Arts Incubator Short Play Festival. On both sides, there was pride in the support and what played out.

Three online readings were to be streamed from the virtual portion of the Arts Incubator Short Play Fest. This is Madame, Is Versailles by Aidan La Poche, Star Quality by Evelyn Mertens, and The Cruise by Anna Esaki-Smith. All the short plays featured talent who either achieved a claim or are on their way to reaching it. Those who streamed this event spoke nothing but respect and awe of their works. ‘ This, Madame, Is Versailles ‘ was the layered story of a real estate agent touring the most costly property in the States while struggling with her hidden aspirations. It was an amazing performance of someone walking the tightrope of professionalism and what she truly pines for. There’s a whiplash of emotion as it carries on like a satisfying short film, Lines may seem like rambling, but they’re longing, jealousy, and hits emotionally. There was emotion and accent with every line. Aidan La Poche’s work also serves as an amazing introduction to the sole performer Brennan Keeley, who is working on his music.

The Cruise carries the tale of an elderly dying Japanese woman with her granddaughter describing the meaning of death and old family recipes. Anna Esaki-Smith’s one act gave an easy-to-love family dynamic filled with wisdom. It subtly addressed sensibilities and barriers without saying it flat out. The acceptance of death was clearer in the play and the comfort in what was passed down. There are universal truths that others may find puzzling, the play makes it so simple in the end and amusing.

Star Quality was the story of people who were strangers to each other years ago, reuniting 13 years later in a diner on a dreary day. Only to find something clearing the air and be introduced to their unlikely connection. The idea that you could barely know someone only to be caught by surprise and catch up much later. Learning of what had become of each other since high school and what haunts them in the presence. There was so much depth, and it dragged to the surface for the viewers to truly witness the performances.

Professor Palmieri boasted,” With the “theater capital of the world” being New York City, it can be easy to forget how many high-quality theatre artists are producing new work outside the city, and this festival is here not only to attract interest from those artists in the city, but also locally, and beyond. “