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Theatre Club Explores the Fantastical and the Absurd in One-Act Plays

In lifting the curtain on life on stage, performance artist Natasha Tsakos put it this way: “Theater is a voyage into the archives of the human imagination.”

In April, the Beacon Theatre Club thumbed through the archives to explore science-fiction and satire in a series of one-act plays that collectively formed its presentation, “Past, Present, Future: A Collection of One-Acts.”

Beacon students Zachary Murray and Cole Mathews wrote the works. Murray penned the one-act piece, “Collapse of the Red Moon,” which chronicles the plight of a crew of ex-cons that is tasked with preventing a runaway moon from crashing into Earth. Mathews wrote three as-badly-seen-on-TV commercial spoofs: “The Always Cold Scarf,” “The Walk-In Microwave,” and “The Always Wet Towel.”

“Past, Present, Future: A Collection of One-Acts” follows up last year’s production, “Legend of the Phoenix,” which Murray also wrote.

Both shows are the fruit of Calinda Strayhorn’s passion for plays. As singer/children’s author Benny Bellamacina once said, “When you feel like you’ve only got a bit part in your own life, write the script yourself.”

In a way, Strayhorn — the driving force behind the launch of the Theatre Club — has done just that. Her drama queen energy opened the door for others to showcase their playwriting and acting skills.

For her part, Strayhorn snagged a role in this year’s production — and welcomed her personal fan club. The Hometown Civitan Club gathers women in Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties dedicated to giving back to their community through annual grants to select charities, board service, sponsorships, and volunteerism. Last year, the club donated money to support Beacon students. Strayhorn was a recipient. Club members met Strayhorn in March at Beacon’s scholarship luncheon, chitchatted about Strayhorn’s interests, and were smitten. When Strayhorn mentioned the upcoming performance, they were keen to support their new Generation Z friend.

And when the curtain fell last month, the verdict was in: The play “was just a great experience for our Hometown Civitan Club,” said Laura McLaughlin, one of the club members who attended the show in support of Strayhorn. “The storyline was creative, and I had so many positive responses.”