Theater insiders know that play development is almost always an incremental, drawn-out and deliberative process, stretching out over months, if not years. Then there's PlaySlam, which has garnered a reputation over the last nine years as the Calgary Stampede of regional playwriting. Following an afternoon of work, a ragtag group of actors presents 1-to-3-minute excerpts from competitive playwrights' scripts. The audience votes on the playwrights they want to see again, with a different script used in the second round of this literary steeplechase. The playwright with the most votes at the end of that round wins the bout, along with the traditional PlaySlam fishbowl, filled with 100 $1 bills.
The lively-to-raucous atmosphere is one part poetry slam, one part game-show lightning round and one part Iowa Straw Poll, since the organizers freely encourage contestants to pack the house with supporters. Adding to the suspense, different artists usually pull ahead in the different rounds. The quick-change aesthetics, as actors shift gears between different characters in different tales, add to the evening's unique appeal. The event begins at 8 p.m.; tickets are $8 in advance, $10 day of show, with $2 off for students, seniors and ArtsClub members. —Byron Woods