CHELSEA — The Uptown 2 train. Encounters in the afterlife. Performance art at MOMA.
Those are a few of the subjects of the 14 plays featured in the Strawberry One-Act Festival, which gives audiences the chance to vote on the work of up-and-coming playwrights.
The festival, which runs from Aug. 16 to 25 at the Hudson Guild Theater at 441 W. 26th St., is a competition in which the audience decides which plays advance to the semi-finals and finals.
At the championship showdown performance, a panel of four judges — made up of theater producers and casting directors — will pick the winning play. The prize is $1,500 — and the chance to have a full-length play developed.
The first few nights of the festival, viewers can pay $22 online or $25 at the door to see three plays, voting for their two favorites.
“That way people can vote for their friend and then vote for the one they really liked,” said Van Fisher, the artistic director who founded the festival in 1995.
This year’s plays are mostly about interpersonal relationships and include everything from a comedy about two friends in prison to a drama about a biracial boy.
Fisher said you don’t always know what you’re going to get with the plays, many of which come from young writers.
“They’re all good plays on paper,” said Fisher. “But sometimes a playwright will hire a beginner actor or a boyfriend as the director.”
On the other hand, some of the plays from previous years have been made into films. Writers including Charles Higham — who wrote "Howard Hughes: The Secret Life," the book that the 2004 film "The Aviator" was based on — have submitted plays.
"Sometimes I get choked up at the awards ceremony," Fisher said. "Regardless of the work and long hours, it brings me joy to know I’m making these dreams come true."
The semi-final and final performances are $27 online and $30 at the door. A full schedule for the festival can be found here. The Strawberry One-Act Festival is part of the Strawberry Theater Festival, which includes four full-length plays and begins Aug. 14.