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'Local Produce' returns

A full-flavored concoction of original works by Rogue Valley playwrights will be showcased when Ashland Contemporary Theatre presents "Local Produce 2: Who Knew?"

Performances of the one-act plays are set for 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays and 2 p.m. Sundays, July 22 through Aug. 8, at the Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road, Ashland.

"Part of ACT's mission is to nurture work by local playwrights," says Artistic Director Jeannine Grizzard. "And we certainly aren't short of writing talent in Ashland."

After the success of "Local Produce 1" in 2010, ACT expects the showcase of one-acts to become an annual event.

"We chose six out of nearly 100 original plays and noticed the parallels between them," says Grizzard. "There is a sense of surprise, a revelation of deeper truths and hidden meanings."

Each playwright attempts to do what Shakespeare did, according to Grizzard. They examine and contrast the intense world of the inner self with the normalcy of everyday life.

This season's performance includes "Just Ten Minutes With Mom" by Grizzard, the story of an estranged daughter who bonds with her mother's ghost. In "The Acceptance" by David Hill, a distraught wife accepts an award on behalf of her husband. Darlene Ensor's "First Date" is about alter egos expressing anxieties one wouldn't say aloud. "The Winner" by Ruth Wire is the story of a woman who accepts a prize while removing a man's writer's block. Cynthia Rogan's "The Gift" is the story of an eccentric aunt who bequeaths what she hopes will help her kin live better lives, and Cathy Noah's "Glutton for Punishment" has the devil at work on a sinner. Each piece runs 12 to 20 minutes.

"The production is a big plus for the arts in Ashland," says cast member Katherine Ross. "The writing is excellent, just hilarious. We walk away laughing every time."

Ross will be performing in two of the shorts: Hill's "The Acceptance" and Grizzard's "Just Ten Minutes With Mom."

"New writers are willing to take big risks without even knowing it," says Grizzard. "They pour their hearts into it, and sometimes professionals lose that quality. Amateurs are the ones who just fell in love; they're the fresh voices."

Tickets cost $12, $10 for seniors and $8 for students, and are available at Grocery Outlet in Medford, Paddington Station in Ashland and at www.ashlandcontemporarytheatre.org.

Judith Rosen and John Litton in 'Glutton for Punishment.' - Photo by Kayla Young