The ArtsCenter of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County, NC will stage its Second Annual Play Slam! hosted by the Charlotte-based N.C. Playwrights Alliance tonight at 8 p.m. Transactors Improv Co. director Greg Hohn will emcee the competition.

An ArtsCenter publicist says, “The Play Slam works much like a poetry slam. Actors perform the playwrights’ 1-3 minute pieces; the audience scores the first-round scripts; the totals are tallied, and some playwrights move on to the second round. At the close of the second round of new pieces, one lucky playwright takes home the cash prize.”

Triangle actors performing these short works by members of the N.C. Playwrights Alliance will include Farrell Reynolds, Barbette Hunter, Eryn Makepeace, Lauren Walker, David Berberian, Candace Churilla, Steve Scott, Thomas King, Kelly Doyle, J Evarts, and Jim Roman.

ArtsCenter theater director Lynden Harris tells Robert’s Reviews, “The Play Slam was a great success last year and brought in a number of audience members who said they rarely went to theater but thought this event sounded like fun. We had a few folks who like to attend poetry slams and wanted to see how a play slam would work.

“A slam is a great opportunity to bring fresh faces into the audience and new writers onto the stage,” Harris explains. “I think hosting something unrehearsed and unpredictable builds interest in the community about the many facets that theater can encompass. Because a slam has a veneer of competition, too, it intrigues those not accustomed to seeing such in the realm of the arts. The audience’s opinions and ideas about theater become validated and powerful. It’s fun.”

Adrienne Pender of the N.C. Playwrights Alliance adds, “The Slam is a collection of short plays, with no specific directors. It’s like a scripted improv, where playwrights come with plays, pull actors from a pool, have their plays read, and then the audience determines by votes who moves on the next round and who ‘wins’ the event. The only certainties will probably be the tech crew from The ArtsCenter. We do ask that the playwrights send in their plays before the event, but most everyone who sends something in will be on the schedule. We could have five entries; we could have 25. Last year, I think we had between 15 and 20 entries.

“It’s kind of a wild night,” Pender admits, “and with last year being the first slam, there were kinks to be worked out. But the audience seemed to like it, so we’re hopeful for this year. One thing we did last year that will continue is a talk-back session with the playwrights. After intermission, we spent about 20 minutes with the playwrights on stage and allowed the audience to ask questions about the plays, the inspiration for writing, etc.”

The ArtsCenter of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County presents the Second Annual Play Slam! Friday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. at 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina. $5. 919/929-2787. The ArtsCenter: N.C. Playwrights Alliance: