The Hippo


May 27, 2020








One of the shows within It Could Be Worse is Hidden Faces of Courage, which premiered in Boston last November. Audiences will see some original cast members in the Feb. 28 performance. Courtesy photo.

See It Could Be Worse

Where: Hunt Memorial Building, 6 Main St., Nashua
When: Friday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Contact: Call 759-0167, visit

Showing thanks and resilience
ACT offers unexpected late-February event

By Kelly Sennott

 The Artists Collective Theatre’s night of one-act short plays on Feb. 28, It Could Be Worse, wasn’t initially in ACT’s Year One master plan.

The Nashua company had a mid-summer gala opening, said ACT founding member Josiah George in an interview, and at the beginning, there was talk of holding another fun event like this during the 2013-2014 inaugural season. But between productions (in its first six months, the company produced three full-length shows), this idea fell by the wayside, George said.
That is, until January, when combined weather and health problems — lead actor Aaron Compagna, who’s doing much better, had to be hospitalized due to illness — required the company to cancel a decent portion of its Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol showings.
For any theater company, never mind a young one just getting on its feet, show cancellations are tough. But ACT, it seems, has developed a loyal following already.
“We were surprised by the response of our ticket holders,” George said. 
Many of the would-be attendees, when offered reimbursements for the cancelled productions, refused refunds. 
“The theater community can be very small, and we were pleasantly surprised with the outpouring of support. … These people donated their ticket money, and they also said many words of concern and good wishes for the actor,” George said.
When the group met again in early January, shortly after the would-be last show of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, the company decided to put something together to help raise more funds and thank ACT’s supporters.
“We wanted to give something back to those who invested in tickets, to those who have become part of our following,” George said. 
They planned a night of one-act plays and monologues. On Feb. 28, they’ll perform Philadelphia by David Ives; a cutting from Hidden Faces of Courage, conceived by Mary Driscoll; True Love by Sharon Talbot; The Goon by Pete Malicki; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz; and a cut from Smoke Scenes, which will be performed by students from Colby Sawyer College.
The event will have a less formal setup, with tables and hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a “candy bar” for audiences to enjoy between productions, in addition to a raffle with a grand prize of a pair of New England Patriots tickets.
The plays, monologues, are of all different styles, some of which are a bit less edgy than what ACT has past produced, but they all follow a uniform theme.
“They all present an off-kilter look at how we normally see things,” said Leah Belanger, co-founding ACT member who is directing The Goon, a play about two stereotypical “bad guys” who are in way over their heads when an accident causes the hero to lose his footing earlier than planned. (Bad guys never hit the hero. Ever.) 
Each play is only about 10 to 15 minutes, save Hidden Faces of Courage, which is about an hour (and includes music!). There should be few slow moments.
“You don’t have a lot of time to make an impression. In one sense, the performer gets an adrenaline rush, which can be great, but on the other hand, there’s not a lot of time to ease the audience into the storytelling. You have to lay it out right away,” Belanger said.
For audience members who enjoyed the fall’s Venus in Fur by David Ives, this event contains another chance to see something by the playwright in Philadelphia. George directs and acts in this play about a young man in a pizza restaurant who’s fallen into a “Philadelphia,” a Twilight Zone-like state in which the waitress won’t serve him anything he asks for. (The name of the event, It Could Be Worse, comes from a line in Philadelphia.)
“What’s appealing about Philadelphia to me is that it’s a fast-paced play that’s very quickly intriguing,” George said. And, like most good short plays, he said, it has a twist at the end.
It’s also an opportunity for audiences to see a play that’s only been shown once, ever — Hidden Faces of Courage premiered in Boston last fall. The show is about women who, after being incarcerated, struggle to re-enter society. Three members of the original cast, one of whom is ACT co-founder Maria Hendricks, will perform.
George hopes audiences get a little taste of ACT’s tenacity, as well.
“One of our goals was to show our resilience,” he said. 
As seen in the February 20, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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