What can you do in 10 minutes?
Take a power nap? Walk to class? Make a quick dinner? Or (hopefully) finish that assignment?
These are some basic things that many of us do every day, but this past weekend, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented a play in 10 minutes at the Hemsley Theater, accompanied with passion, emotion and evidence of hard work.
Earlier this month, the Theatre and Drama Graduate Student Organization presented its sixth annual Ten-Minute Play Festival, featuring nine plays written, directed and acted out by UW-Madison students. While each play had its singular theme separate from the others, one commonality throughout was the audience’s ability to use his or her imagination in interpreting the message.
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“Garfield’s Calamity,” written by Wesley Korpela and directed by Bridgett Vanderhoof, brought viewers back to some fond and not so fond memories: high school, and more specifically, high school drama. The play centered around a Garfield Fan Club of three students, where the inevitable drama of “who likes whom” surfaced.
Yet a bigger message may have been present here — the media’s influence on young adults and mental health. One discussion included the day’s comic strip where Garfield is described as telling another character, John, to commit suicide, a message interpreted within the club as something the members should do.
This play in particular played on a familiar high school scene, adding a twist of the influence of media, also something many are familiar with now and has become more prominent with younger ages.
The third play, “Joe’s Meditation,” written by Danny Crowley and directed by Daniel Crowley, also presented a known scenario to viewers. Character Average Joe, played by Dan Crowley, is meditating as the all-too-familiar angel versus devil scenario was played out by two other actors.
With the internal discussion showcased for viewers to see in a dramatic manner, the play ended anticlimactically with Average Joe walking off in a seemingly peaceful manner. This depicted the overall conflict individuals may go through in making a decision and the ability to keep the conflict internal.
Written by Steffen Silvis and directed by Joshua Kelly, “Anaheim ’79“ drew on a recognizable instance that audience members may not recognize in themselves. Tom, played by Ben Jaeger, is trying to live up to his late father’s talent and occupation: male stripping. As this opening scene adds comic relief for what occurs later, the commonality of living up to past loved one’s talents and names is certainly something many can relate to.
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However, it may take the entirety of the play to reach this message. For a majority of the play Tom is talking with his passed father, Arthur, played by Thain Emrys, yet it is not necessarily known that this is a dream for Tom until another character enters the stage without acknowledgment of Arthur.
Other plays featured were “The Last One Home,” “Lost and Found at the Hotel Mogador,” “The Oak Tree, Soft Light Creeps in from Stage Left,” “Fifteen Scenes about Forgetting” and “72 Days.”
The festival not only gave audience members common instances to relate to but also proof of the passion and emotion necessary to perform a play in only 10 minutes, leaving much up for interpretation.