Annual contest draws entries from 100 aspiring playwrights
BY MACKENZIE TEWKSBURY
The Daily Reflector
Friday, July 13, 2018
GREENVILLE — Ten actors, 6 plays, 10 minutes each.
That’s what you’ll expect if you head over to Magnolia Arts Center tonight for the 13th annual production of the 10-Minute Play Festival, a reader’s theater style competition that features six selected submissions from MAC’s annual playwriting contest.
The competition received more than 100 submissions from unpublished authors worldwide, including plays from New Zealand. Second-year director Mary Brandon said she narrowed the plays down to 65, and then a panel of judges chose six to be performed tonight.
The works range from fun, comedic pieces to satires and current events.
“The selection we have will range from serious and hysterically funny,” Brandon said. “We’ve got a wide variety. Some are political. We have one based in true life. Some are local. We’ve got some themes of current day,”
This year’s festival features:
“Bankin on the Grand,” a true life event;
“Shoes,” a look at attitudes of homelessness;
“The Grim Reaper,” a comedy;
“The King Of Current Events,” a serious look at student pressures of school today;
“Dead Boys Club,” conversations between two women in an art studio;
and “Little Boy,” a current political sattire.
“Every year there’s been one or two that are topical in our world, then there are some that are fun and poignant,” Mark Rasdorf, an actor in the festival, said. “It’s fun to have those little snapshots and let them sit with you and the audience.”
The audience gets to join in on the fun, too, as the festival is not complete until audience members pick their winner. Brandon said seeing which play the audience picks is fun for her, too.
“I’m always amazed by what the audience finds funny or serious. It always surprises me what they pick. You just never know,” she said.
The 10 actors will perform a stripped-down version of each play. Dressed in black with minimal props, the actors can use facial expressions and hand gestures to bring the play to life – but that’s it.
Brandon said the reason for this is intentional: to give the author and the play the spotlight.
“We’re kind of emphasizing the material and the message,” Brandon said. “There’s no costumes, no sets. What the actors present should carry the exact message of the play.”
Tonight marks Rasdorf’s third consecutive year performing in the festival. When a friend asked him to join in, he figured he’d try it out and ended up having a blast.
“It’s just one of those things that happened two years ago,” he said. “I dove right in and just went for it. It’s a quick, fun experience.”
And with a background in theater, it brings Rasdorf back to his roots.
“It allows me to continue to to participate in an area of creative expression that’s meant a lot to me in my lifetime,” he said.
Rasdorf said the play festival showcases unique voices while also allowing exposure for amateur writers.
“You’re giving the voices and the vision of some playwrights the opportunity to be heard,” he said.
It’s also a chance to support community theater.
“It’s a chance to support Magnolia and the good work they do in the community and for the community,” Rasdorf said.