Around Town: One Act Play Festival returns to The Magnetic Theatre

TAKING THE STAGE: Blades, a play by Margo Hammond, was featured in The Magnetic Theatre’s 2021 One Act Play Festival. Photo courtesy of The Magnetic Theatre

The Magnetic Theatre’s One Act Play Festival, born out of necessity when live performances shut down in 2020, has since become an annual tradition.

The event began two years ago with a series of short plays presented over Zoom. Last year, Magnetic hosted the festival before live audiences with distance seating and masks required.

“After having done it in person, we were like, ‘Well, this is actually really great and we want to keep doing it just on principle,’” says Katie Jones, Magnetic’s artistic director.

The third annual festival will feature 20 original plays presented in two blocks over consecutive weekends, Friday, Nov. 4-Sunday, Nov. 13. The shows will run Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays-Sundays at 4 p.m.

The Magnetic cast a wide net for the 20 plays, spreading word on networks like New Play Exchange and other social media sites specific to playwrights. The result was nearly 1,000 submissions from around the world.

While the selection process did not pursue specific themes, some commonalities emerged. “We have a lot of plays about couples that are deeply in love, but the world just doesn’t want them to be together,” Jones says. “There’s also a lot of comedies about animals reclaiming society.”

The festival will feature a rotating cast of 35 local actors and directors, as well as a handful of plays written by local authors.

Aaron Ybarra‘s Nice Dress explores the world of polyamory, Jones says, while Doug Savitt‘s An Actor Prepared is a farcical comedy about a show gone terribly wrong. Bach Bach Bach Bach by David Hopes tells the story of a woman who disconnects from her partner over her love of Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Part of Magnetic’s mission is to support local writers, so those authors do get particular consideration,” she says.

The Magnetic Theatre is at 375 Depot St. For more information, go to

Biblical proportions

Filmmaker Christopher Zaluski didn’t know much about frescos when he first learned of plans to create one at Haywood Street Congregation, a United Methodist mission congregation and faith-based nonprofit.

But he quickly was drawn to the project as he learned about the artistic process, the long tradition of fresco paintings in Western North Carolina and what the Haywood Street mural represented.

“I have always been interested in doing films about artists — both visual and musical,” he explains. “The story of the Haywood Street Fresco, specifically, is such a visual story that I thought it really lent itself to documentary.”

The result is Theirs Is the Kingdom, a film that follows artist Christopher Holt through the process of creating the 11-by-28-foot fresco in the congregation’s sanctuary. It also profiles many of the local people featured in the painting. The documentary recently became available to stream for free on Amazon Prime.

Frescos use sand and lime to create a plaster that then is spread across a wall and subsequently painted on. The one at Haywood Street was inspired by the Beatitudes, eight blessings recounted by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, and includes images of Asheville iconography and residents.

“Many traditional frescos … are depicting either traditional biblical scenes or maybe portraits of the rich and powerful,” Zaluski says. “This painting is depicting real people in the Asheville community who are typically overlooked by society, people battling homelessness, addiction and mental illness.”

In 2021, the movie won Best Documentary at the Longleaf Film Festival, as well as Best Documentary Feature at the Knoxville Film Festival.

“I hope the film urges people to reserve judgment, keep an open mind and be loving toward others because we never know what someone is going through,” Zaluski says.

The public can view the fresco at 297 Haywood St. Sundays, 9 a.m.-noon and Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. To watch the movie, go to For more information on the fresco, visit

Poetic license

Asheville’s Philip Belcher wrote a poem in kindergarten his parents still consider their favorite. At 11, he published a poem about the Vietnam War in his local newspaper.

After high school, though, he gave up writing as college, graduate school and then a job in the corporate world got in the way. It wasn’t until he turned 40 that he decided to nurture his creative side again.

“I started reading poetry and writing again and haven’t stopped since,” he says.

Belcher’s first full-length poetry collection, Gentle Slaughter, was recently published by MadHat Press.

“My poems often combine memory and imagination,” he explains. “So, a poem might begin with an image or a situation very close to fact but then head in a direction I didn’t intend when I began writing. Creative writing is surprising that way.”

Several of the poems also find their genesis in literature or visual art, including pieces inspired by photographs by Diane Arbus and Shelby Lee Adams. “Just like memory, other forms of art can spark an idea or image that develops into a poem,” he says.

For more information, go to

Fantastic voyage

Asheville author Cinda Williams Chima will launch her new YA fantasy book Runestone Saga: Children of Ragnarok with a hybrid event at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m.

The first in a series, the book will be released Tuesday, Nov. 8, by Balzer & Bray.

Rooted in Norse history and mythology, Children of Ragnarok follows Eric Halvorsen in a post-Ragnarok world without magic after he is falsely accused of murder.

Chima is the bestselling author of The Shattered RealmsThe Seven Realms and The Heir Chronicles series.

Malaprop’s is at 55 Haywood St. For more information about the hybrid event, go to

Moving days

Form in Motion, an exhibit of jewelry and paintings by Asheville artists Christie Calaycay and Pat Phillips, will run Friday, Nov. 4-Sunday, Dec. 4, at Pink Dog Gallery in the River Arts District.

An opening reception with the artists will be Friday, Nov. 4, 5:30-8 p.m. at the gallery.

The jewelry and paintings in the show depict physical movement as well as suggested movement in the push/pull of color and line. According to a press release, “The show aims to push beyond the simple reaction of motion and explore the reciprocal link between emotion and movement.”

Calaycay has designed and made jewelry for more than 15 years using traditional metalsmithing techniques, including piercing cutouts by hand, forming, forging, hard soldering, textural hammering and riveting. Phillips is a goldsmith artist whose work focuses on jewelry, painting and sculpture.

Pink Dog Gallery, 348 Depot St., is open Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays, noon-4 p.m. For more information, visit

Dress for success

Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina is seeking Asheville-area designers to compete in its Color Me Goodwill upcycled fashion show, which returns to The Orange Peel on Saturday, April 21.

The seventh annual show will feature seven designers, each of whom will create a five-piece collection based on their selected color. Designers each receive $200 to shop for clothing and materials at local Goodwill stores.

Designers can apply to compete in Color Me Goodwill as individuals or as teams of up to three.

To apply, visit and complete the application by Monday, Nov. 14.


Mariachi Sol de México, a Grammy-nominated band led by José Hernández, will perform at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Hernández is an internationally recognized musician, composer and educator. The band has collaborated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Symphony and San Francisco Symphony as well as popular artists like the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson and Jose Feliciano.

The Bardo Arts Center is at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. For more information to to buy tickets, go to

Back in the saddle

Tickets are available for Warren Haynes Presents: Christmas Jam, which returns to Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville on Saturday, Dec. 10, after a three-year hiatus.

The lineup for the 31st jam includes Phil Lesh & Friends (featuring Haynes, John Scofield, John Medeski and John Molo), Tyler Childers, Gov’t Mule, Brothers Osborne, Dinosaur Jr., Beth Hart and more.

The concert will benefit the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, as it has since 1994, as well as BeLoved Asheville.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. To buy tickets, go to




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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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