Upcoming ’10-Minute Play Festival’ provides unique learning experience

Baldwin Wallace University will be holding its annual 10-Minute Play Festival this upcoming December.

The “10-Minute Play Festival” is a series of student-directed plays that, as the title implies, exceed no more than roughly ten minutes in length. These plays are produced by BW students who have worked toward transferring the skills they have learned in their Directing class to the stage in an entertaining and all-encompassing way, said Scott Plate, Directing Program Coordinator and facilitator of the “10-Minute Play Festival.”

“These are plays that have been adjudicated and invented through festivals that I don’t think many people have ever seen before, so it feels like brand new work,” said Plate. “It’s short, it’s got quite a bit of variety in it. When it’s well-done, there can be a fearlessness about it…”

Plate said that through his class, students are fed different elements of what goes into directing and are then taken through the components of casting and mounting each short work they have chosen to produce as directors themselves. From there, they can refer back to the classroom to work through any problems they encounter in their productions.

Many of the student directors participating in the festival have significantly more experience as actors than they do directors, said Plate, which gives them a new perspective in the theatre and really forces them to “grapple with what a director has to grapple with when they work with actors.”

“It helps them, I think, understand how to prepare, how to communicate as actors, what kind of professional behavior is required of them, what isn’t helpful in a rehearsal room. They learn how to create an environment where creative work is possible,” said Plate.

Laney Davis, a senior BFA acting major and student director in the festival, noted the difference between working as an actor and advancing into the position of a director through the “10-Minute Play Festival.”

“It’s getting to flex a different muscle that you wouldn’t normally get to,” said Davis. “As an actor, you’re working from a character perspective, so you’re seeing your character’s storyline. But as a director, you have to see the whole arc; you have to see the world.”

The “10-Minute Play Festival” is not only a learning experience for the up-and-coming student directors, but also for actors participating outside of Plate’s class, said Cecelia Zitarosa, a sophomore acting major who was cast in one of the productions.

“We come into rehearsal with new discoveries and things we’d like to try, and just like in any other rehearsal, it’s trial and error. It’s a place to try things and fail—or succeed. The director gets to deal with things from that standpoint for the first time,” said Zitarosa. “I think both parties get a lot of practical experience for their careers.”

Zitarosa described the “10-Minute Play Festival” as a “really creative and collaborative process,” and one which audiences should experience for themselves.

“I personally always like to use the plug ‘support live theatre,’ but I think the ‘10-Minute Play Festival’ is a lot more than just supporting live theatre. I think, especially here at BW, it’s about students and faculty supporting students in their endeavors,” said Zitarosa. “I feel like we don’t get as many opportunities to show what we’re doing through presentations and internships and I think this is one of the really cool creative projects that we get to take part in and show people what we do.”

Plate said that the students’ excitement for their work is a true testament to the amount of effort they’ve been putting into their chosen plays for the past few weeks with very minimal assistance.

“It’s a great thing to get behind and root for because the students really are producing this on their own… so you don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Plate. “It’s definitely going to be refreshing and fun and innovative.”

The “10-Minute Play Festival” will take place in the William Allman Theatre on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free; however, they must be obtained ahead of time for entrance to the event.