City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts festival serves grown-up theater lovers (through Shorts and headliner Jai Rodrigruez's late-night show Dirty Little Secrets) and family audiences (through the Lisa Loeb-Marco Ramirez musical Camp Kappawanna). This year's festival is reaching out in another direction with an information- and entertainment-filled literary conference, CityWrights.
The gathering, which begins with registration and a welcome party Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Miami's Epic Hotel, offers two days of panels, workshops and performances on Friday and Saturday, with a wrap-up Sunday brunch June 26 celebrating the playwrights and company of Summer Shorts, which winds up its run at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts that day, then moves for an additional week's run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Playwright Susan "Susi" Westfall, City Theatre's literary manager and a co-founder of the company, dreamed up the literary conference and has filled it with impressive names, enticing (and useful) panels and an exciting bonus: a free performance-lecture by Obie Award-winning playwright Lisa Kron (the author of 2.5 Minute Ride, Well and other works).
Kron, who is participating in CityWrights thanks in part to the Dramatist Guild Fund's Traveling Masters Program, will lead a workshop for 10 young South Florida playwrights. She'll also give a free, open-to-all lecture and performance titled What Will Happen Next? at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Peacock Room at the Arsht, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. City Theatre describes her performance this way: "One life in the theater and the search for dramatic action. In this entertaining and enlightening mix of conversation and performance, Lisa Kron shares stories spanning the journey from her start improvising funny anecdotes in scrappy East Village clubs in the '80s, through the thrill of debuting her play Well on Broadway. Along the way she shares what she has learned about the nature of dramatic action -- why plays are so hard to do well -- and why we keep trying." (Reservations, required for Kron's performance, can be made by calling 305-75509401, ext. 10.)
After Kron's performance on Saturday, City Theatre will honor four of this year's Shorts playwrights in attendance (Israel Horovitz, Bara Swain, Garth Wingfield and Jon Kern), then comes a special 10 p.m. performance of Summer Shorts (ticket purchase required).
Participants in CityWrights include playwrights Horovitz, Gary Garrison and Andie Arthur, intellectual property attorney David H. Faux, editor Larry Harbison and literary agent Susan Schulman.
Because City Theatre wants the gathering to enrich the work of both out-of-town participants and South Florida writers, the company is offering a special rate to locals for Friday and Saturday events: $30 for one day, $50 for both. For information on CityWrights, call 305-755-9401, ext. 10, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photos of Susi Westfall, top, and Lisa Kron)