10 Minute Theatre
What do 10 minutes, an umbrella and six boxes have in common?
They are some of the innovative ideas being employed within a new, student-driven campus project being billed as SFUAD’s First Annual 10 Minute Theatre Play Festival.
The idea for the 10 Minute Theatre Play began as the brainchild of two SFUAD students, Bissi Ademulegun and Zoe Baillargeon. According to the co-founders, the inspiration for “this shindig,” came from a playwriting class they took last semester. In the class, taught by Dale Dunn and Lynn Goodwin, students were given an assignment to come up with a 10-minute play. Though they had not yet talked, both had the same reaction: “It’s kind of like Flash Fiction for the stage.”
As the idea took hold, they thought, wouldn’t it be great to give other students, campus wide, a chance to to be able to present a 10-minute play of their own work too?
“We feel that sometimes departments compartmentalize or students feel they aren’t perhaps given the space and opportunity to truly explore an idea they might have,” Baillargeon says. But with the 10 Minute Theatre, students will get the chance to witness their work go from the page to the stage.
Ademulegun and Baillargeon also see this as a great opportunity for creative writers to come on board.
“[Creative Writing Department Co-Chair] Matt Donavan has been incredibly supportive in helping us get the word out, and encouraging writers to get involved and submit original works,” Ademulegun says.
But it’s just not about writers. It’s about anyone wanting to work with a group to bring an idea to life. “Often times here on campus, the only chance you get to see work performed is through the Theatre Department….but we want students to know that what we’re trying to do here is give everyone a chance to see their work come to life,” Ademulegun adds.
Students can submit a piece in any genre, drama, comedy, musical, tragedy, even silent theatre, as long as they follow the simple criteria: A 10-12 page piece of work that doesn’t run over 10 minutes, no big scene changes, no more than four characters, etc. Instructions request no nudity, children, or “profanity for profanity’s sake.”
However, to keep things interesting the founders have thrown in a couple of quirks: When try-outs begin in November, one required prop will be an umbrella. That umbrella can be a literal prop or incorporated into the play as a metaphor of some kind, but it must be used.
“We though it might be kind of hard for the audience to follow along with six totally different scenarios,” Ademulegun says.
To remedy this, the plan is to incorporate the umbrella into each play in some kind of way, thereby providing the audience a sense of continuity.
That same sense of continuity will also apply to set design. Six large boxes will be constructed that can be incorporated however the play’s creator envisions, perhaps a table and chairs, a bed, or perhaps a wall.
For their first production, the co-founders plan to have six to seven plays ready to present in the spring of 2015. A panel will be chosen to critique and rank the submissions. That panel will include teachers, students, peers: those who have a “good grasp of what goes into writing good plot and character development.”
The chosen plays and their creators will then get a few months of nurturing and polishing. An e-mail, which came out with information on the 10 Minute Theatre, says that, “Workshops will be held to critique and improve chosen plays.” But Ademulegun and Baillargeon see the word “workshop” having a different connotation than what students are normally accustomed to.
“Our goal is for this to be a positive experience. It’s not about competition,” Baillargeon says. “We just want to have an atmosphere where fellow students, writers, and actors can come together on a smaller, more informal scale and not be afraid to take a chance.”
So far, feedback has been good. Ademulegun and Baillargeon have already received three submissions and several emails in reply to their announcement. Anyone interested in submitting or learning more about the Ten Minute Theatre should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org