The 14th annual festival shows that small is beautiful.
Less is more and small is beautiful. That’s the philosophy behind Theatre Odyssey’s annual Ten-Minute Play Festival, now in its 14th year. “Thinking small can be a way to think big,” says Tom Aposporos, the festival’s founder. “The short form leaves no room to ramble; each play must be stripped down to its sinewy essentials.” He adds that the festival always attracts work from leading area playwrights. The 2019 competition was open to playwrights from across the state of Florida. Their nine best submissions will be staged in this year’s festival. A jury of theater professionals will judge the plays and award $500 to the best play and $300 to the runner-up. The festival will also feature the winner of the 2019 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival. Here’s a short version of this year’s short plays:
- Frank Motz’ “Crunchers” puts a new spin on humanity’s love affair with technology. In the not-too-distant future, Alexa has been seriously upgraded. By 2030, she’s become a humanoid robot who seems to have feelings for Robert, her user. She develops a close relationship with him. Too close. He decides to send her back for an adjustment. But who’s adjusting whom?
- James Kassees’ “Dome” satirizes xenophobia, paranoia, and the urge to huddle behind barriers. The Roman Empire is in decline and ready for a fall. General Gluteus Maximus is assigned to an outpost in the boondocks. He knows the native Kohoni people are out there … somewhere. The general builds a dome to protect the Romans from the threat. Fans of Edward Gibbon will know how it all works out.
- Paul Donnelly’s “Family Visitation” explores a young man’s final visit to his dying lover in the late 1980s. They say love conquers all. But a prejudiced nurse is about to put his love to the test.
- Tony Gunn’s “Volition” explores the difference between free will and fee will. A lawyer takes a difficult case. Her new client forces her to make an impossible choice. The lawyer quickly discovers that she’s on trial.
- Connie Schindewolf’s “Life on Earth” finds a footnote in the contract of unconditional love. Ellie dumped Ryan — then returns a few months later with a heart bursting with love. It seems to too good to be true. And it is. There’s a catch.
- Dan Higgs’ “A Conundrum” asks the eternal question: “What is love?” In Higgs’ play, it turns out to be a multiple-choice question. Love is either: (A) A biological drive that traps people in broken relationships. (B) A transcendent force that heals those relationships. (C) All of the above. (D) None of the above.
- Arianna Rose’s “Family by Numbers” does the math of what happens after the happily ever after. Boy meets girl; boy gets girl. Before long, the loving pair becomes a family of five. Is there enough love to go around?
- Keith Whalen’s “Coming to Town” is an offbeat holiday parable. Kenny gets an unexpected visitor for Christmas. No, it isn’t Santa. It’s his retired parents. They’ve got a big surprise. It could either be the best Christmas ever -— or the worst
- Mary Margret Steber’s “The Tragedy of Benjamin Finch” is this year’s student winner. Her play offers both good news and bad. The bad news? Four hard luck people are riding on a bus that breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The good news? The bus driver just won the lottery.
- Robert Wanderman’s “Who Done It” is a murder mystery that would give Agatha Christie the fantods. Lord Isaac has been found dead, missing his feet, impaled with a spear, and wearing soaked trousers. Suspects include a shark, the butler, his wife, the footman, and possibly you.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.