The Daily Iowan

Ten-Minute Play Festival

Actors+prepare+to+set+the+scene+for+Busted%2C+a+play+written+by+Jason+Grobstich+during+a+dress+rehearsal+for+the+10+minute+plays.+The+10+minute+plays+feature+a+variety+of+student+playwrights+and+actors+as+they+perform+short+sequences+of+plays.%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Actors prepare to set the scene for Busted, a play written by Jason Grobstich during a dress rehearsal for the 10 minute plays. The 10 minute plays feature a variety of student playwrights and actors as they perform short sequences of plays.(Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Actors prepare to set the scene for Busted, a play written by Jason Grobstich during a dress rehearsal for the 10 minute plays. The 10 minute plays feature a variety of student playwrights and actors as they perform short sequences of plays.(Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Actors prepare to set the scene for Busted, a play written by Jason Grobstich during a dress rehearsal for the 10 minute plays. The 10 minute plays feature a variety of student playwrights and actors as they perform short sequences of plays.(Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

SID PETERSON, [email protected]

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The University of Iowa Theater Department will present original undergraduate work and readings at the 21st-annual Ten-Minute Play Festival from Thursday through Feb. 11.

The festival takes place annually in the Theater Building and encompasses many genres. The experience allows undergraduate playwrights to share their plays with the public as well as grant directors, actors, and designers the time and space to demonstrate their talent.

Starting tonight, audience members will watch as the writers’ ideas come to life with the help of student directors and actors.

The writers’ plays must be approximately 10 minutes long, and in this small amount of time, their specific message must be expressed to the audience. Playwright Ashlynn Dale described her piece, “The Animal Inside,” as timeless, futuristic science fiction and noted that the time period was irrelevant.

“My goal is to get through to the audience to have them be present,” she said.

The most important aspect of “The Animal Inside” is within the character, whose identity is hidden, Dale said; “the point is that they can be any gender, any race, any identity.”

Nicole Gabrione, a playwright and director in the festival, believes people can become more open-minded through theater.

“When we discuss important topics nowadays, people are closed off and set in their ways,” Gabrione said. “But when you add the magic element that the theater has, I think people open themselves up a lot more.”

While Dale’s futuristic piece offers a key social lesson, Gabrione’s “The Shell” delivers a different message to the audience. Without revealing too many details, she described her play as falling into a comedic genre, featuring two characters who find a cursed shell.

In addition to writing “The Shell,” she also directed the drama “Two Slushies,” written by Benjamin Sulzberger. She noted that the piece was, in general terms, about “two friends having a conversation under extreme stress.”

While the play is certainly a drama, it also has a few funny moments. After all, as one of the two actors in the play, Austin Wickle, points out, the plot is about “two friends spending a day at the park, drinking slushies.” Wickle, who plays Joe, said audience members will “realize the powerful connection” between the best friends Joe and Rich.

Ten minutes can pass quickly, and what the actors do in this limited time can have a real effect on the audience. Wickle emphasized that the performer holds a great responsibility to make every moment of the play count.

Similarly, Dale stressed that the performers truly “shape the play, and my job as a playwright is to have that foundation, but the actors build upon it.”

In this sense, each person in the play has a distinct and crucial role: the words from the playwright, the logistics from the director, and the emotions delivered to the audience from the performers.

When: Thursday-Feb. 11m times vary

Where: Theater Building, Theater B

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