The 27th anniversary of City Theatre’s “Summer Shorts”, running now through June 23 at the intimate Carnival Studio Theater of the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami features the annual salute to the ten minute short play, but with a significant difference this year.

This year, the words “Flipping the Script” were added to the title, to honor four of the Miami hometown playwrights whose plays are in this year’s festival.  The selected quartet (playwrights Brittany “BK’ King, Maleeha Naseer, Nerissa Street and Brandon Urrutia)

In addition to the four local playwrights who created four of the shorts, the remaining four shorts by playwrights John Bavoso, Rhiannon Ling, R.D. Murphy and Karissa Murrel Myers were selected from the Susan J. Westfall National Short Playwriting Contest.

Summer Shorts 2024

“Summer Shorts” began in 1996 by co-founders Susan Westfall, Stephanie Heller and Elena Wohl as a team effort to create funny and memorable short ten minute plays, reminiscent of what television viewers laughed to on shows such as “Saturday Night Live” or “The Carol Burnett Show”.

“It was so hilarious to see Carol Burnett and other comic actors perform in those memorable comedy sketches over ten years on television. ‘Summer Shorts is capturing those unpredictable hilarious moments live on stage through our multiple ten minute short plays,” said Margaret M. Ledford, the artistic director of City Theater.

Judging by the long tenure of “Summer Shorts”, audiences love the fast pace, rapid costume changes and the multiple characters portrayed by the actors in the eight play, 90 minute production, done in two acts with a short intermission..

To maintain the fast pace of the show, Ledford has hired a seven member backstage crew to help the seven actors with rapid costume changes, moving the sets and the many other details needed to keep the show moving to go along with multiple directors and other offstage staff for a total of 40 artists combined to produce the 2024 Summer Shorts.

Six of this year’s shorts stood out for being creative, funny and dramatic.

The best of the eight shorts this year include “An Awkward Conversation in the Shadow of Mount Moriah” by Bavoso, “Dickery Pokery” by Urrutia, “Leaving Jamaica” by Street, “Search for an Ending” by Myers, “Swordfish Grilled (So I Don’t Get Sued) by Naseer and ”The Pros and Cons of Implosion” by Murphy.

“An Awkward Conversation in the Shadow of Mount Moriah”, directed by Steve Trovillion, taken from the biblical story of Abraham (actor Alex Alvarez) and his son Isaac (Chris Anthony Ferrer) is a hilarious look at what Abraham and Isaac said to each other after Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac before sparing his life.

Without giving away the dialogue and many one line jokes, Abraham and Isaac interact as if they were a modern Jewish father and son who did not agree with each other on why Abraham followed God’s will. The universal appeal of the biblical story made this short play funny and memorable due to both the talents of    Bavoso (who also wrote satires on the biblical stories of Adam & Eve and Noah’s Ark) and the acting of Alvarez and Ferrer.

Summer Shorts 2024 Photo

“Dickery Pokery” features a husband (Alvarez) who visits the shop of a piercing artist (Kimberly Vilbrun-Francois) for an unusual piercing. To satisfy his wife and improve his love life, the husband shocks the artist to request a highly unusual piercing in this hilarious story that has dialogue filled with misunderstood intentions and an unusual ending. The comic timing of Alvarez and Vilburn-Francois and Urrutia’s storytelling make this short fitting for our times.

“Leaving Jamaica” is a heartfelt dramatic story written by Street, who is Jamaican and tells of the immigrant story in which a mother (Toddra Brunson) in Jamaica wishes to send her child (Vilburn-Francois) away for a prosperous future by going overseas to the United States.

What often is seen as a story of a mother sacrificing for a child in an immigrant family is given an emotional struggle as the child loves living in Jamaica and views living her beloved homeland as a sad occasion in which she rebels with her mother.

“Search for an Ending” is a short of three screenwriters (Ferrer, Devon Dassaw and Diana Garle) who search for the perfect ending for the female lead in their upcoming film. Written by Myers with a pro-feminist perspective, the humor comes from the two male screenwriters plotting how the female ends the movie without asking for any ideas by the only female screenwriter in the room.

The funny dialogue, with the interplay of male chauvinism and feminist issues plays out with much humor, due to the talents of the three actors. Myers had the ability to make this short funny, without being preachy, despite taking a point of view in her writing.

“Swordfish Grilled (So I Don’t Get Sued) ” is a madcap comedy of misunderstandings set locally at the fictional Swordfish Grill in the West Kendall suburb of Miami. A cast of six actors (Therese Adelina, Alvarez, Dassaw, Ferrer, Garle and Nat Ordonez) open the Swordfish Grill for business when one of the staff discovers that a woman died in the restroom, leading to all kinds of complications.

The plot does not sound humorous, but this play is funny due to the misunderstandings and the funny dialogue between the actors, who play a variety of ethnic characters, who mostly speak English with heavily laden Spanish accents, in a story that ends with lots of laughs due to an unexpected event. Written by Naseer, her talents lie in her development of funny characters.

“The Pros and Cons of Implosion” by Murphy is a dramatic short with comic overtones involves a young high school senior who is a whiz at technology (Adelina) who wants to restore her neighbor’s Volvo automobile which is left to rust for 20 years.

Murphy’s short is a dramatic look at the perspectives of two generations, who regard the automobile in different ways. The high school senior is pragmatic and judges the worth of the car as a vehicle that must run efficiently and, if it is not able to function, should be replaced. As a contrast, the older neighbor (Alvarez) looks at his rusted Volvo with fondness, provoking memories of people he loved and knew in the past.

The different perspective of two generations is warmly acted by both actors and Murphy’s short play allows the audience to ponder alternatives from seeing things from two viewpoints.

Six of the eight shorts were outstanding, but the other two shorts, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl Goes to Brunch” and “This Week in the Land of Democracy” had improbable plots and characters that were not believable or funny.

What also was disappointing in the 2024 Summer Shorts was the omission of a musical short, normally a stable at a Summer Shorts event, which would have added more contrast to this year’s lineup.

Nevertheless, the six outstanding shorts are worth the price of admission.

City Theatre’s production of “Summer Shorts: Flipping the Script”, is now running though June 23 Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami. Tickets are $50 for general admission,  $75 for front row tables with student tickets discounted at $15. For more information and tickets, go to or call 305-949-6722.

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