The Return of Double Shot Festival

by Alec Clayton

Bryan Willis, photo by Pat Dixon

The Double Shot 24-hour theater festival! Is back in business after an 11-year hiatus. This time the plays are taking place at the Armory in Tacoma.

Double Shot is a weekend play festival in which plays are written, rehearsed, and performed, all within 24 hours, a challenge to playwrights, actors and directors and an opportunity to creatively present new, short-form theater in a dynamic way. Each performance will feature the same five 10-minute plays. Created for audiences 13 years old and older, the program will have a PG-13 content rating. The program will run approximately 90 minutes with a brief intermission.

Double Shot is produced by Theater Northwest in partnership with Northwest Playwrights Alliance.

“Olympians will be familiar with many of the all-stars featured in our ensemble And we’re especially delighted to announce Jen Ryle will be one of our five directors,” says Bryan Willis, co-producer and lead curator of the festival and Artistic Director, Northwest Playwrights Alliance at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Ryan_Holmberg_in_previous_Double Shot

Actors from the Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle areas whose previous theater performances prove them up to the task will play characters they knew nothing about in plays they knew nothing about until the beginning of the festival. They are Aaron Bredlau, Erin Johnson, Riley Minkowski, Julia Pearl-Styles and Evalynn Castro Kaye, all based in Tacoma; Elizabeth Lord, Ryan Holmberg, Jordan Richards, Erin Johnson, Blair Smith, Jonah Barrett, Austin Bennett, Ann Flannigan, Riley Minkowski, Julia Pearl-Styles, Evalynn Castro Kaye, Ted Ryle and Eliese Moore from Olympia and environs; and Sara Geiger and Blair Smith based in King County. “All others, if not based in Thurston County, are very familiar to Olympia audiences, There will be five directors: Charlotte Tiencken (Artistic Director, Vashon Repertory Theatre, former Artistic Director at both Tacoma Actors Guild and Tacoma Little Theater), Chris Serface (Artistic Director, TLT), Erin Chanfrau (former interim director and board member at Lakewood Playhouse), Nyree Martinez (worked for many years at Tacoma Arts Live), and Jen Ryle (founder and past artistic director for Olympia Family Theater.

Jordan Richards, photo by Kate Arvin

The playwrights who will undertake the Herculean task of writing a play in the small slice of the 24 hours allowed will be Trista Baldwin (Tacoma, associate member of NPA at Seattle Rep), Brendan Healy (Seattle, core member of NPA at Seattle Rep), Eva Suter (originally from Spokane, WWU grad), Darryin B. Cunningham (Tacoma, recently in Rent at TLT), Mia Tierney (University of Portland grad, recently produced in NPA & TAO’s IPOP and NPA festival in Japan as well as NPA’s upcoming tour to England, NPA artistic apprentice. Tierney has just been awarded a Fulbright to teach writing in Greece next fall).

Finally, the unsung hero of every play, the stage manager, is Timberline High School & PLU grad Monique Otter. She’s a full-time production guru at TAL. “This is our first collaboration with Monique and we’re hoping to make it an annual tradition,” Willis said.

Bryan Willis Reminisces about earlier Double Shots

Aaron Bredlau, photo by Elizabeth Lord

These notes from Bryan Willis go back to when Heidi Fredericks and Lauren O’Neill “were producing so many excellent shows, and also Olympia Family Theater.  Many of the same actors, directors and writers who were involved in the Olympia Double Shots are involved in our new version at Tacoma Arts Live.  In fact, over half of our cast are Olympia-based actors and we’re proud to announce Jen Ryle will be one of our directors.” 

The first two Double Shots were produced with the Northwest Playwrights Alliance and the University of Puget Sound in 2007 and 2008. Others were produced by David Fischer at the old Theater on the Square and other venues.

“A major difference between Double Shot and all the other overnight festivals in which I’ve participated (including 14/48 and festivals in other states) is that Double Shot is either free or extremely inexpensive for our audience.  It’s a gathering and celebration for the theater community.

“We’re pleased to announce another major difference in our latest Double Shot (perhaps the first time this has happened in the history of overnight festivals), we’re paying all of our talented theater artists!  These festivals are traditionally a fundraiser for the sponsoring theater. 

“Double Shot is about creating new works and sharing them with the community.” 

Elizabeth Lord

Many of the Double Shot plays have been published and continue to be performed locally and around the world. Last summer NPA co-sponsored a production in Japan featuring several of these plays.  In May NPA will co-sponsor with the University of Portland a tour to England featuring five more Double Shot plays.  Others were produced a few months ago in a festival of ten-minute plays by Theater Artists Olympia at OlyTheater.

One of those plays was written by Dan Erickson, now famous for creating Apple TV’s “Severance.”  Erickson is a graduate of Olympia High School and Western Washington University’s playwriting program, and his work has been featured in most of the Double Festival.

Double Shot Festival of Overnight Plays

Tacoma Arts Live at Tacoma Armory Roosevelt Room, 1001 Yakima, Tacoma

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20 and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21

$15.00, available online at 

LEARN MORE: (253) 346-1723

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