Festival Challenges Students to Write Ten-Minute Play in 48 Hours

The bi-annual Ten-Minute Play Festival occurred during a two-hour performance period on March 29 in Watson Fine Arts. The plays this semester focused on secrets and lies while having  strong political undertones. These ten-minute plays have been a primary event on campus since the festival was formed in 2002.

The process of putting on these plays happens within a week. As Playwright-in-Residence Charlotte Meehan said, “Plays are selected [on Wednesday] and the announcement of the ten winning plays goes out on Thursday morning. On Thursday evening, there’s a planning meeting where playwrights are paired with directors and the plays are cast. One-hour rehearsals happen on Friday or Saturday, and the plays are put up as staged readings on Saturday night.”

As always, students wrote and submitted their pieces within 48 hours, responding to the prompt sent through a campus-wide email. Manager of Arts Events & Publicity, Jessica Kuszaj, asked students to write a ten-minute debate play that addressed the issues of the day and could touch on what’s happening in the campaign season, without characters based on famous politicians.

Using this prompt, students managed to fit complex issues within their play scripts. “I was overwhelmed by the students’ assimilation of very entertaining scenarios with strong political content,” Meehan said. “These plays were particularly sophisticated in their social critiques.”

Current social issues are an important focus of these plays each semester. “Audiences really enjoy the variety of ways students choose to respond dramatically to the topic given,” Meehan said, “This year’s audience was particularly impressed with how the students wove the political campaign into their plays without sacrificing larger themes.”

The process behind forming the Ten-Minute Play Festival is a huge undertaking for both the students and faculty involved. “I think it’s very difficult to write a play in less than 48 hours,” Meehan said, “our students always impress me with their talent, ingenuity and huge commitment to making the whole festival a success.”