Ten-Minute Play Festival returns with work from UI theater undergraduates

The 25th annual undergraduate festival will include a variety of shows at the Alan MacVey Theatre this weekend. Short, 10-minute-long original works, as well as staged readings, will showcase undergraduate theatre work.


Braden Ernst

Abby Paul and Andrew Heligas act out a scene in a play for the Ten-Minute Play Festival on February 11, 2022. The five plays will be ready for public eye starting February 17, 2022 in the Alan MacVey Theatre in the UI Theatre Building.

Cassandra Parsons, Arts Reporter

For decades, the Ten-Minute Play Festival has offered undergraduate students at the University of Iowa a chance to showcase their playwriting, acting, and production skills. On Feb. 17-20, the festival will return to the stage for its 25th annual run.

The event will return to an in-person format for the first time since 2020. This year, it will take place at the Alan MacVey Theatre in the UI Theatre Building.

The Ten-Minute Play Festival gives undergraduate playwrights an opportunity to see their short works performed. The festival is almost entirely run by undergraduate students, giving them leadership and hands-on experience in live theater.

“I think one of the best things about the festival is that it is a true representation of the aesthetics of the undergraduates who are learning how to make theater, there are no faculty members imposing their ideas,” Festival Coordinator Kristen Hartsgrove Mooers said.

The monthslong process of putting on the festival began in October 2021. The plays being performed were chosen by Hartsgrove Mooers and Christopher Lysik, a graduate playwright. Auditions for the selected plays took place in November and rehearsals began at the beginning of the spring 2022 semester.

“The creativity and ingenuity of the undergraduate theatre artists are front and center from auditions all the way through the performances,” Hartsgrove Mooers said.

Seven fully staged plays will be performed at the festival, along with five staged readings. The readings are performed from plays that were not selected for a full 10-minute production.

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One of the featured plays, Control, is a one-person show written, performed, and directed by Demi Makeig, a UI third-year student.

Makeig said they are looking forward to testing their play out at the festival. Control follows the experience of a being fully aware of their own birth.

“The pitch is: as you were still in the womb, and then imagine the brain you have right now as you’re being born, and the trauma and insanity of what that must be like,” Makeig said.

Makeig added that they are most excited to have an audience to perform for and to hear them laugh again. Makeig added that the Ten-Minute Play Festival will be an excellent opportunity for aspiring playwrights to gain feedback during their performances.

The production’s stage manager, third-year graduate student Madison Davis, said her position is normally fulfilled by an undergraduate student, but the department was short on production workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davis said this year’s festival is especially exciting, as it has not been held in person for two years. She said the health of all those involved is a high priority within the Theatre Department.

The stage manager added that the communication between herself and the playwrights has been essential, and the excitement from the new directors has been fantastic.

“We’re here, the expectation is we’re going to do what we can and we’re going to make it amazing, no matter what,” Davis said.