DrekFest 2012 "grand loser" Abortion Carnival of the Jugglaos
DrekFest 2012 "grand loser" Abortion Carnival of the Jugglaos Credit: Mouzam Makkar

Described as being on a mission “to expose bad writing for what it really is: damn funny,” DrekFest, Stage Left’s annual contest of truly terrible ten-minute plays, comes to ComedySportz Theatre next week for one night only. This year’s fest, the eighth, features four works by local playwrights vying for the title of worst of the worst. Can they possibly top past “grand losers” such as Abortion Carnival of the Juggalos and F*** You Janine: A Play Ruined by My Ex, Like Everything Else in My Life?

Jonathan Baude’s Dragons in America: A Fantasia on the Theme of How F**kin’ Awesome Dragons Are is written in the style of a precocious teenage boy. Anderson Lawfer and Michael Dailey, both of Strawdog Theatre Company, offer Troubling Innocence, a musical that deals with race relations. Rory Leahy’s Grape Jelly: A Play About a Prostitute focuses not on a working girl but on a writer, lampooning cringe-worthy dramatic devices like finding redemption through a whore with a heart of gold. And Behind the Wax Myrtle Shrub, by Cynthia Shur Petts, is “an incredibly pretentious southern gothic,” says Stage Left artistic director Vance Smith.

The plays are given staged readings judged—which is to say, bashed—by theater critics Chris Jones and Kerry Reid (Chicago Tribune) and Kris Vire (Time Out Chicago). Audience members cast votes for the grand loser, which will receive a cash prize, but all works are eligible for “coveted honors” such as worst opening line, worst stage directions, and worst title.