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Ten minutes till great theater: Island Theatre presents third annual play festival
Renowned author Henry David Thoreau once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
That’s some sage advice.
Simplification is also often the secret to good storytelling, especially when you only have 10 minutes in which to tell it.
The 16 stories on display in this year’s Island Theatre Ten-Minute Play Festival do well by Thoreau’s advice, and pack an impressive amount of story into their concise running times.
The best part about a 10-minute play, said Island Theatre president Kathleen Thorne, is that if somebody in the audience decides that they don’t like a particular piece, it’s already practically over.
It’s the combination of brevity and variety, she explained, that makes the Ten-Minute Play Festival such a perfect theater event for both new and seasoned stage production fans.
“They’re kind of a mix,” Thorne said of this year’s plays. “We didn’t have a theme. We talk about that sometimes, that may come some year.”
Topics addressed in this year’s offerings include the demands of parenthood, work troubles, politics, lingerie shopping and, inevitably, love and relationships.
Miller Shor, 17, a Bainbridge High School senior who is the youngest featured playwright in the festival, said she did not find the time constraint to be too restrictive.
“I think it’s not that difficult,” Shor said. “You sort of get used to it and think, ‘How much can I actually put in 10 minutes without overwhelming the audience?’”
“Bliss,” Shor’s contribution to the festival — her second in two years — is an eerie morality tale that ponders if happiness is possible without pain and sadness for contrast.
“It’s sort of otherworldly,” she explained. “You’re not quite sure what’s going on until the end.”
Regardless of age and topic differences, this year’s playwrights do have at least one thing in common.
Even as there are no specific content requirements, Island Theatre does impose strict rules to guarantee the selected authors are truly local artists.
“The playwright has to have some kind of connection with Kitsap County,” Thorne said. “They have to live here or work here. That was our only real eligibility rule.”
Thorne said that they received approximately 55 to 63 play submissions this year, which is in keeping with previous years.
“We put out a call to playwrights, got the word out and waited to see what would trickle in,” she said. “The first year there was nothing until the last two days, then there was a flood of plays. All of a sudden we had 60 plays to sort through and that’s been pretty consistent.”
This year’s featured playwrights include 11 returning winners from the 2012 and 2013 festivals — James Anderson, Connie Bennett, Robert Dalton, Jeff Fraga, Charlie Hamilton, Paul Lewis, Steven Lee Palay, Miller Shor, Ulla Solberg, Ned Thorne and Wendy Wallace — plus five newcomers including Gwen Adams, Trish Bittman, John Ellis, John Ratterman and Diane Walker.
Each of this year’s eight directors – Susan Anderson, Diane B. Bankart, Larry Blain, Kate Carruthers, Rozzella Kolbegger, Fred Saas, Sara Scribner, and Steve Stolee – will direct two plays.
Kate Carruthers will serve as overall managing director of the festival.
This year, Thorne explained, the audience will have the chance to be more involved than ever before. Viewers will vote at the end of both nights for an “Audience Choice Award.” Finally, one festival favorite will be chosen by the event judges as the overall festival favorite.
The festival is recommended for ages 13 and above, as some plays include strong language and adult subject matter.
The plays feature an ensemble cast of 32 Kitsap County actors including Jessica Aubin, Noah Barfield, Tia Bannister, Victoria Brown, Robert Craighead, Barbara Deering, Robin Denis, Tyler Detrick, Tracy Dickerson, Ted Dowling, John Ellis, Ken Enright, Todd Erler, Tony Gasbarri, Rilla Hughes, Ashley Hurd, Eva Jane, Cyndi King, Dylan Lehotsky, Sam McJunkin, Jennifer Pippen-Montanez, Arthur Mortell, Marybeth Redmond, Patrick Ryan, George Shannon, Miller Shor, Sandi Spellman, Bronsyn Beth Foster, Tim Tully, SueEllen VanDuyne, Ann Wilkinson and Andrejs Zommers.
Admission to the festival is free on both nights. Donations are accepted.
For a complete list and summary of this year’s plays and more information about Island Theatre, visit www.islandtheatre.org.
Originally founded in 1995, Island Theatre’s mission is to provide quality theater, geared toward mature audiences, onstage and in less conventional venues through plays that challenge the performers artistically while both entertaining and intellectually engaging audiences.
Ten-Minute Play Festival
What: Island Theatre Ten-Minute Play Festival.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24.
Where: Bainbridge Performing Arts (200 Madison Ave. North).
Admission: Free (donations appreciated). The event is recommended for ages 13 and up. Some plays include strong language and adult subject matter.