In a classic case of one hand washing the other, five Los Angeles area playwrights have banded together to form P.H.O.M.A. -- Playwrights Helping Out Moving Arts. P.H.O.M.A. will produce a new play festival, Aug. 27-30, with all proceeds benefiting the playwright-based theatre.
The P.H.O.M.A. Fest features new one-act plays including: Zero the Divine by Jean Colonomos , Catalogue by Sachi Oyama, Fathers and Dogs by Chris Bohnert , El Spanish Lesson de Kitten Sanchez by Mary Garripoli and Jim Pfanner.
According to Artistic Director Lee Wochner, Moving Arts, founded in 1992, was created out of necessity, "As a playwright, I needed a place to work out of, my co-founder Julie Briggs and I had been treated poorly elsewhere. We wanted a place where we weren't treated that way."
Six years ago they created that place -- out of an old police substation -- and called it "Moving Arts." Since that time they have presented more than 60 plays, most of them world premieres, including the critically acclaimed Beguiled by Choice (which ran for nine months in 1994), the Drama-Logue Award-winning Fast Friends, and two one-act festivals.
"When I was 15," Wochner said, "'Rolling Stone' did an article about Lanford Wilson. I read it and thought, 'This is dumb, why would anyone want to write plays?'. Then, in college...I took a Theatre of the Absurd class and it changed my life." The teacher took an instant liking to Wochner and allowed him to write a play, in lieu of doing another report. The teacher was so impressed with the play, she had Wochner write another -- this time with a school grant for $500.
Wochner's plays now number 18 and include Happy Fun Family, Uncle Hem, Anapest, The Size of Pike and Remember Frank Zappa.
Tickets to the benefit are $20, and include a catered reception with playwrights, cast and crew afterward. For reservations and more information call (323) 665-8961.
-- By Sean McGrath