Dallas — When Craig Newmark first created his email distribution list, it was to connect people with services and activities, a helpful tool for those new to a city or region. Eventually the list expanded to include connecting people with people, becoming a virtual messaging place the world now knows as Craigslist. There is a subset of the Craiglist’s personals section labeled “missed connections.” It is within those messages that playwright Stefany Cambra finds the inspiration for her new work, Missed Connections produced by Proper Hijinx, which is enjoying its world premiere as part of the 18th Annual Festival of independent Theatres/FIT.
For Cambra, the story is not the messages, rather it is the imagined longings of the people who post them. How many of us are living our lives believing we are missing out on something wonderful? In a conversation with TheaterJones, Cambra described this as the “what if” game, one she believes many people (perhaps everyone) engage in at some point in their lives. What if a person had picked door number three instead? Would that person’s true love have been waiting there? Cambra crafts her characters out of mundane intersections that otherwise pass unnoticed.
The cast of eight, four women (Vanessa Guadiana, Robin Clayton, Amy Cave and Whitney LaTrice Coulter) and four men (Jon Garrard, Antonio D. Thomas, Steve Cave, Jeff Burleson) bring the audience into moments in their lives when a split-second decision resulted in the loss of an opportunity for happiness. Robin Clayton is a young corporate office worker that is smitten with a co-worker she never approaches. Amy and Steve Cave are the devoted couple anchored to marriage by their children while individually longing for someone else. Whitney LaTrice Coulter is the book nerd that did not approach the guy in the library even though she noticed him looking at her too. Vanessa Guadiana and Jon Garrard bump into each other on the street yet neither follows through on the urge to connect. Antonio D. Thomas never approaches the young woman squeezing avocados in the market, and Jeff Burleson has one of the more introspective monologues of the collection.
These characters are recognizable as are their shared moments. Strongest deliveries come from Clayton, Coulter, and Steve and Amy Cave. Cambra’s direction keeps the pace moving so the energy does not lag. Cambra describes Missed Connections as a young script that benefits from collaboration with the actors. This seems to be an operative theme for Project Hijinx and one that is working well for the group so far.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres in our special section here, where you can also learn how to download our FIT app. In that app, you'll see a section for the playbills for each company, which includes cast, creative and director's notes.
» See more info about the 2016 Festival of Independent Theatres here.
» Read our interview with writer/director Stefany Cambra and actor Jeff Burleson
Missed Connections is performed in the following blocks:
- 8pm Thursday, July 21
- 8pm Friday, July 22
- 2pm Saturday, July 23
- 5pm Saturday, July 30