The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Seven plays, 70 minutes

Lauren Watt is kind of a theatrical superhero.

From crying actors to flickering lights to water splashed across the stage, the stage manager handles it all without a blonde hair out of place. 

When a play lasts only 10 minutes, every second needs to run smoothly, and Watt ensures it does seven times in a row every night of the University of Iowa’s Ten Minute Play Festival, which will run tonight through Feb. 15 in Theater Building Theater B.

“Ten Minute is, just as the name suggests, a series of 10-minute-long plays written by undergraduate playwrights from a variety of majors,” Watt said. “Plays are submitted and a selection committee goes through and selects the top plays to be produced.”

The shows are directed and designed by undergraduates as well, meaning Watt has plenty to do as stage manager: schedule rehearsals, note any technical issues, call all show cues during performances, and serve as the link among all shows. She does get help, though, from assistant stage manager Nic Steffes.

“[Watt] asked me to be her assistant stage manager, and I had no idea what Ten Minute was, but I said yes,” he said. “It’s a challenge, because it’s so many little plays that come together to make one big performance, so there’s a lot to organize. But I got into stage management because I like the problem-solving element of it, putting all the puzzle pieces together and creating something.”

The festival is beloved by many in the Theater Department, because it provides students the chance to act in a relatively low-pressure environment or direct their first plays.

“The Ten Minute Play Festival is a long-standing tradition for undergrads in the Theater Department,” said artistic director Jennifer Fawcett, a playwright herself. “It has been running since 1997 under the director of Kate Aspengren and is also a great opportunity for actors and directors to flex their muscles.”

But the festival is perhaps most important for the student playwrights, Fawcett said, who might see their words performed onstage for the first time.

“[Ten-minute shows] demand that a playwright create the world of the play, compelling characters, and a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, and fit it all into 10 minutes,” Fawcett said. “As a playwright, the only way to really learn how your play works is to produce it, which is why this festival is a great opportunity. Each of the plays has been revised through the process and is stronger for that.”

UI sophomore and playwright Alice Doherty said the process has improved her submission, “Anacostia.”

“I try to take advantage of any opportunity to produce my own work,” she said. “The Theater Department’s emphasis on new plays is one of the main reasons I came to the University of Iowa.”

The Plays

The Ten Minute Play Festival will feature seven productions and six readings, which include partially staged presentations of actors using scripts. 

“The Moon in the Boat”


“Please Buy My Card”

“Signal Seven”

“Attempt 27“

“Grieving with Gary”

“Farmer Jane’s Haunted Romance Farm”


“Copacetic,” by Frankie Rose

“The Jump,” by Matt Schutz

“Incommunicado,” by Kelvin Teck Jiang Ang

“Slip,” by Maritza Pineda

“Tiras, After Death,” by Hiram Alexander Orozco

“Dance on Our Graves,” by Miriam Randolph