Fred Savage and Olivia d’Abo, who played siblings in the television series “The Wonder Years,” are scheduled to appear in the next edition of the Ruskin Group Theater’s “L.A. Café Plays” Sunday, August 21.
Dubbed the “Fastest Theater in Town” as five short plays go from conception to execution in just 10 1/2 hours, the “Café Plays” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the group’s theater, 3000 Airport Drive at Santa Monica Airport.
Although several theaters throughout the country have staged 24-hour plays, Ruskin producers Markus Flanagan, Mike Myers, Erin Kelly and Michael Laurie have upped the stakes and cut that time by more than half. In addition, the speed plays are produced monthly.
At 9 a.m. on the day of the performance, five writers gather at Back on Broadway, a café-restaurant in Santa Monica. Each writer picks, at random, two manila envelopes containing actors’ headshots. They are then given four hours to write a seven- to 10-page one-act play that takes place in a café. The directors then take over, meet their actors, and begin rehearsals.
“The collaboration and partnership of the Café Plays yields amazing results, and trust must be instantly forged and absolutely relied upon,” says actor David Bosnak, who has been in several of the speed plays. “And the beauty is, it is good.”
Savage, a highly successful child actor, has gone on to star in and direct several films and television episodes as an adult. Best known for his starring role in the long-running ”Wonder Years,” Savage was, at 12, the youngest person ever to be nominated for an Emmy as best leading performer.
His film credits include Dinosaur, The Boy Who Could Fly, Vice Versa and Little Monsters. He also directed an episode of the television sitcom “Boy Meets World” that starred his real-life brother Ben Savage.
d’Abo, who played Savage’s older sister in “The Wonder Years,” is an accomplished film, TV and stage actor as well as a singer who has performed with Julian Lennon, Jon Bon Jovi and others. Her film credits include Wayne’s World 2 and stage credits include Scenes from an Execution at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
d’Abo is scheduled to play Gwendolyn Pigeon in the Broadway revival this October of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” which will star Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
The Ruskin Group Theatre, founded in 2002, not only produces plays, it has done extensive outreach, teaching and performing in correctional facilities, boys’ homes, nursing homes and more throughout Southern California.
Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy is playing at the Ruskin through Aug. 20.Tickets for “L.A. Café Plays” are $10. Call (310) 397-3244 or go to http://www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.