ART BEAT: 'Heart Throbs' celebrates the search for love at Lionheart

Lovers searching for Valentine's Day activities have numerous choices in the Gwinnett area, but perhaps nothing as unique as "Heart Throbs." This collection of nine short plays produced by Dave Fisher at Norcross' Lionheart Theatre examines the quest for romantic love in mostly comedic but always insightful ways.

"Heart Throbs" will be offered at 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 14 to 16 and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17. Tickets are $10. Lionheart Theatre is located at 10 College St. in Norcross. The concept was the brainchild of Fisher as he communicated with other playwrights across the country using the Internet.

"Playwrightbinge is a web-based group of writers who commit to encouraging each other to submit their work for performance, readings and publication," Fisher said."While chatting on line with them last year, I mentioned that I'd like to produce a collection of 10-minute plays timed for Valentine's about the struggle to find romantic love. I got 85 submissions from across the country and a few from beyond. A long vetting process yielded nine that make a wonderful evening of theater."

Three of the selected plays were written by Atlantans. One contributor is from Canada, another from the state of Washington. Many of the plays have been previously produced, but all are new to area audiences. Each piece has its own director, and each director cast his or her own show.

The challenge for playwrights was to basically spin a romantic tale.

"What makes a good love story?" Fisher said. "It isn't about the thing that brings two lovers together. It's about the 'thing' that keeps them apart, the 'thing' they must overcome ... or ignore. And as much as we want to be in love, and we all do, that 'thing' can be a big obstacle."

The issues can be politics, fighting and fertility. Lionheart's own Artistic Director Tanya Caldwell tackles the fertility issue in her piece "Last Egg." "Fighting Mr. Right" by Barbara Lindsay of Shoreline, Wash., is the tale of a young woman who has learned from previous experience that she shouldn't "move beyond a handshake" until a relationship has survived three fights.

"Politically Incorrect Dating" by Atlantan Hank Kimmel has a young woman setting up her friend with an "ideal" girl who might not be quite so "ideal."

The production company created by Fisher which is producing "Heart Throbs" is named Flying Cat and is an informally organized group. The group produced last year's "The Kindness of Strangers."

"We are a group driven to make theater happen," Fisher said. "We have no home and rely on partner venues, with the hope that each venue will tap into its own patron base."

"Heart Throbs" will also be produced at Atlanta's Academy Theatre earlier in February.

For more information about "Heart Throbs" and other Lionheart Theatre activities, call 770-885-0425 or visit www.lionhearttheatre.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.