Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

Dayton Playhouse FutureFest,
July 24 - 26, 2009

“For people who think that theater is dead – let them come to Dayton.” That phrase reverberated about the Dayton Playhouse last weekend during FutureFest – 2009. It was spoken by playwrights, finalists in this unique festival. Their plays were chosen from more that 200 submitted. Their works survived three rounds of committees, to be among the six plays actually presented during the weekend.

The same praise was on the lips of the professional adjudicators who analyze each play and choose an ultimate winner. The four adjudicators are all distinguished scholars, authors, playwrights, directors, but most of all, theater buffs to the extreme.

The six plays, presented in a 48 hour stretch, all end with applause and then cast, director, playwright face the panel of adjudicators. These experts and theater lovers encourage, criticize, guide the playwright and teach the audience so much about the magic of live stage.

The audience is the epitome of loyal. Many have attended the festival for its entire 19 years. Most come for the entire weekend and miss nothing - plays, adjudication, meals and the ubiquitous buzz of comments about the plays, the acting and the writing.

My wife Alice and I love festivals. We travel distances to theater and music festivals. Distance does not lend enchantment when we compare FutureFest. In our own backyard is something precious and unique.

To list its special qualities, we can start with the fact that the entire festival is operated by volunteers. To Dayton theatergoers, this is no surprise. We marvel at the commitment and energy of those who propel the many community theaters. The chairperson, Fran Pesch, is assisted by a devoted board. Somehow, the plays get read, the playwrights are invited, the theater is staffed and the seats are filled.

The amazing depth of our acting community is a precious commodity. Each of the six plays were performed by outstanding casts, well directed and motivated by real passion for their art. Even the few plays which I considered flawed were well acted.

Now for the scoreboard. There was an ultimate winner chosen by the expert panel and one chosen by audience ballot. Rarely do these choices agree this year was no exception. The adjudicator’s chosen winner gets a check for $1,000. The audience choice gets … well, money isn’t everything.

My rating divided the six in half. Three were really excellent. Three were flawed, often quite badly. Let’s begin with the “clinkers.” The plays which I did not prefer, to be polite, all had a common fault. They were “overwritten.” It seemed the dialogue went on endlessly and extraneous matters were introduced to clog the clean progression of the plot.

Unfortunately, I have to name names. Darkroom by Southerner Devon Boan dove into an interesting and timely problem. A black man, actually mixed race, has “passed” for white. He is haunted by the memories of his black father hung by murdering bigots for no crime other than being black. Listening to the adjudication, you could see that a fine play might emerge when the plot and dialogue were shortened and focused.

A Snake that Eats Itself is authored by Chad Baker, originally from Dayton. He is only 20 years old, a college student and on his way to becoming a great writer. It deals, rather circuitously, with a famous director who has become a recluse. His associate and disciple has found him in isolation and is coaxing, even tricking him, back to Hollywood.

Retired businessman and lifelong wordsmith Richard Manley wrote Quietus. It deals with an incredible subject, keeping cadavers “alive” to be harvested for body parts. While I felt ‘worn down” by the seemingly endless dialogue, the concept was interesting.

Three excellent dramas made up the other half of the weekend. G-Man by Rosemary Frisino Toohey delighted me. The hero is a G-man, read that - garbage man. It deals in depth with the Sturm und Drang of a young man who feels he is a failure in his late father’s eyes but not in his own

Night and Fog was a dynamic exploration of post World War II Germany, the trials of Nazis and the rising threat to peace, the USSR. The final play really struck me as original, fun and full of surprises. Young and lovely New Yorker Molly Smith Metzler transported the audience, including many super-seniors, into the hippest of all worlds, that of the avant-garde artist in Carve.

Great performances abounded. I must leave out several – each cast was bursting with talent. The entire cast of Carve rated bravos. Versatile Duante Beddingfield kept the weird artist from being too zany but very, very funny. Lisa Sadai made a small part tower as the drunk and bizarre mother. I won’t tell you about the romantic couples’, strange twists. This play will be on or near Broadway someday and I don’t want to spoil it for you. As the couple, darling Amy Leigh, just returned to Dayton, joined Matt Curry in creating characters that made us smile.

In Night and Fog, two of the foremost actors in this area – and they would be the same anywhere, completely mesmerized the audience and the adjudicators. David Shough, an attorney by day, has given stellar performances for years. Professor Chuck Larkowski has given us the same doses of amazement. As a war correspondent and a condemned Nazi, they took acting to heavenly spheres.

The protagonist in G-Man, Benjamin Norsworthy almost convinced me of the nobility of hauling trash. He also got to spend cameo time in bed with fabulous Annie Pesch, on vacation from her career in New York. Both of her characters, one-night-stands in the amorous life of our “refuse engineer,” were hilarious and brimming with originality.

I must apologize to those fine actors I can’t fit into this article. Every cast was amazing, wonderful and brimming with talent. Oh yes, Night and Fog was the experts’ choice. Carve was the audience’s. FutureFest was my choice for more than a joy-filled weekend. It was a great privilege.

DAI and the Humane Society present Artful Animals

Artful Animals, a special event presented in conjunction with the exhibition 90 Treasures, will be held in the Italian cloister on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. The Dayton Art Institute is partnering with the Humane Society of Greater Dayton to celebrate the museum’s 90th Anniversary and its history with animals on the museum grounds. The event was inspired by the museum’s pre-Columbian “Colima Dog,” one of its 90 Treasures. Artful Animals is free and open to the public. Come out and enjoy a fun-filled afternoon for the whole family:

Meet adoptable pets from the Humane Society. Go on a Gallery Hunt to find the animals in The Dayton Art Institute’s collection. Take part in two hands-on art projects for the kids. Enter to win an animal lover’s gift basket. Check out “Pawde Monet” - artwork created by Humane Society animals! The art will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Humane Society and The Dayton Art Institute!

For more information about this and other 90th Anniversary events, visit or call the museum at 937-223-5277.

Art on the Lawn Aug. 8

The Village Artisans of Yellow Springs, Ohio, will be presenting its 27th annual Art On The Lawn art show on Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The popular outdoor arts and crafts show is held each year under the shade trees of Mills Lawn; Elementary School, one block west of Xenia Ave. (St. Rt. 68) in the village.

The Village Artisans is one of the oldest arts cooperatives in the Miami Valley, featuring fine ands and crafts from artists living and working in this area of Ohio, as well as from Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Established in 1983, Village Artisans has provided Yellow Springs with quality handmade art work in very diverse mediums and styles.

Student Sound Sculpture signup underway

Attention Oakwood Jr. & Sr. High School students, help create a musical work of art this summer! Local sculptor and musician Michael Bashaw has become well known for the large-scale instruments and works of art which he designs and builds. The instruments, known as Sound Sculptures are played in a variety of ways: some are mallet instruments; some have strings which are hammered or bowed, while others are made up of chimes.

What: Assist building a Sound Sculpture, with the artist Michael Bashaw.

When: Monday, Aug. 10 & Tuesday, Aug. 11, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Where: Smith Memorial Gardens

Why: In celebration of 35th Anniversary of Smith Memorial Gardens. The Sound Sculpture will be used as an instrument during the Puzzle of Light concert Sunday, Aug. 30, starting at 6 p.m.

Who: Junior and Senior High students with a passion for music and/or art.

Cost: $10 for one day $18 for both days. (more days may be added)

Registration: Register with payment at the Oakwood Community Center. Limited to 15 students per day.

What to bring: Sack lunch

The Friends of Smith Gardens would also like to thank the Oakwood Rotary Club for the monetary donation in support of this artistic endeavor.

Call for Entries...

DSPS Contemporary and Abstract Art Show

The Dayton Society of Painters & Sculptors (DSPS) is calling for entries into a juried show of contemporary and non-objective abstract art. This is DSPS’s first open competition featuring stylized and non-objective artists. Cash prizes will be awarded. The judge is Peter Gooch, a University of Dayton painting professor.

Maximum size is 48 x 36 inches, all media. Early entry fee is $12 each up to three works. Applications for show should include two (2) 3x4” cards for each work entered with artist’s name, name of work, size, media and price. Send check made out to DSPS by Aug. 14 to Terry Hitt, 1718 Beaverbrook Dr. Beavercreek Ohio, 45432.



top of page

August 4, 2009
Volume 18, No. 31

front page
'round town


display ad rates!




Classified ads
are $10.00
50 words
or less

The Oakwood Register
print version
is available
to subscribers anywhere
in the USA





in the
The Oregon District













University of Dayton
Artist Series



National City
2nd Street Market








The Oakwood Register
site design by Hamilton Innovative