Two very different takes on artificial intelligence, a quest for revenge, sibling rivalry, a mysterious past romance with political overtones, and a strange, historically-based wedding staged in a prison.
These are just a few of the sundry subjects addressed by the authors of this year’s offerings in Island Theatre’s seventh annual 10 Minute Play Festival.
Featuring 10 fully staged performances of 10 works by 10 playwrights with strong local connections, the festival will take to the Bainbridge Performing Arts stage Friday, Aug. 17 and Saturday, Aug. 18, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday only.
There is also a special pay-what-you-can preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16.
About 60 plays were submitted this year, said managing director Steve Stolee.
The 10 ultimately chosen were: “A.I. Love U” by Karen Polinski; “The Justice Part” by Jeffery Brown; “If the Shoe Pinches” by Connie Bennett; “Oblivion” by Paul Lewis; “Henri’s Return” by Avery Gori; “Joint Questioning” by Miranda Ray; “The Kevin” by Rob Burke; “Good Stuff” by James E. Anderson III; “The Last Bride of Ansbruk Village” by Aleks Merilo; and “The 18th Hole” by Bruce Pemberton.
Returning winners include Lewis, Polinsky, Brown, Bennett, Burke, Anderson and Merilo. Gori (a high school student; the youngest author yet selected for inclusion), Ray and Pemberton are newcomers.
“They range from people who have never written a play before to people who have plays published and performed at other festivals,” Stolee said of this year’s winning authors. “Several writers are quite accomplished.
“It’s a very interesting, growing community of writers,” he added. “And this is what we really want to concentrate on with the festival is to really give the writers their due.”
All 10 plays, performed by Island Theatre directors and actors, will be staged during each of the four shows.
This year’s directors are Diane Bankart, Pete Benson, Shannon Dowling, Anne Wilkinson Ellis, Bronsyn Beth Foster, Barbara Hume, Rachel Noll, Fred Saas, Tell Schreiber and Steve Stolee.
The plays feature an ensemble cast of 26 Kitsap County actors: Quinn Balas, Tanya Black, Chloe Bohonos, Scott Breitbarth, Jeff Brown, Victoria Brown, Paul Bryan, Samantha Byergo, Tres Cozine, Brian Danzig, Peter Denis, Makaela Donnelly, David Hager, Matt Howe, Joseph Lacko, Chapple Langemack, Blair Nichols, Jennifer Pippen Montanez, Wayne Purves, Alex Sanso, Geoff Schmidt, Georg Shannon, Shannon Sheehan, Sandi Spellman, Tyler Weaver and McKendree Springer.
This year’s crop of source material saw the quality bar raised yet again, according to the managing director.
“Every year there’s a slight increase in the number of submissions we have, and I think … the plays have gotten better ever since we started this seven years ago,” Stolee said. “The quality just keeps going up, and we get better at putting on the festival, too. I know that’s also part of it.”
Though two of the chosen plays address the subject of artificial intelligence (admittedly, in very different ways), there was no dominant theme or tone among this year’s submissions or finalists, Stolee said, calling this year’s a “strikingly broad selection of themes.”
The play entries were subjected to a so-called blind judging (playwrights’ identities were hidden) by three theatre professionals. The playwrights are required to either live in or have a strong connection to Kitsap County, and although they were allowed to submit up to three entries, only one play per author may be selected for performance.
Advanced reserved seat tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, students and military and are available through the Bainbridge Performing Arts box office, online at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org, or by phone to 206-842-8569, with remaining tickets sold at the door as available.
The BPA lobby is open for refreshments one hour before show time.
The festival is recommended for ages 13 and above.
The festival has evolved slightly since the inaugural year, having first included 16 plays performed over two days, eight each night. The thought was, Stolee said, to give as many authors a chance to see their work on stage, and to give the audience the most different stories possible.
“We decided against doing that ever again,” he said. “It seemed like too many plays and not enough performances of each play, so we trimmed it down to 10.”
Limiting the number or plays gives the actors time to become more familiar with their parts, and also their behind-the-scenes duties: moving set pieces, adjusting lighting, etc., Stolee said, as the festival operates with a very small crew.
“All of the actors will make up the crew that moves furniture in and out,” Stolee said.
Founded in 1994, Island Theatre’s regular schedule includes Island Theatre at the Library, a bi-monthly series of staged play readings at the Bainbridge Public Library, plus, in intervening months, Island Theatre at Your House (aka YoHo), potluck dinners in privately hosted homes at which all guests are welcome to join in a reading of a selected play.
For more information, visit www.IslandTheatre.org.