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Ten-Minute Play Festival tackles big stories in tight narratives

Eight plays written by Florida dramatists will compete in Theatre Odyssey's 19th annual festival Jan. 11-14.

"The Last Colony" by Patrick Van Eyck was the runner-up play in the 2022 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival.
"The Last Colony" by Patrick Van Eyck was the runner-up play in the 2022 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival.
Image courtesy of Donald Walker
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If you're thinking that Jan. 11-14 seems early for Theatre Odyssey's annual Ten-Minute Play Festival, you're right. Last year's fest was held May 11-14 in the Jane B. Cook Theatre at the FSU Performing Arts Center.

Is the Ten-Minute Play Festival following in the footsteps of the Forks & Corks food and wine festival? Forks & Corks moved to Jan. 22-29 this year after some attendees complained about the heat at the April 2023 Grand Tasting.

Unlike Forks & Corks, the Ten-Minute Play Festival is held inside so weather is not a factor in its scheduling. But access to a vacant stage at the Cook Theatre is, says Tom Aposporos, co-founder of the festival, now in its 19th year.

"We took advantage of the dark time between the closing of 'Crazy For You' at Asolo Rep and the opening of 'Inherit the Wind,'" Aposporos said in a telephone interview.

According to Aposporos, the Ten-Minute Play Festival's patrons seems comfortable with the schedule change. Ticket sales are brisk for the general admission event, he says.

This year's festival includes nine plays, eight in competition and the winner of Theatre Odyssey's 2021 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival. Some of the directors and performers of the Ten-Minute Plays are familiar faces from Sarasota's theatrical community.

The plays will be judged by three adjudicators: Andrei Malaev-Babel, director and head of acting of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training; Emilia Sargent, producing artistic director/CEO and co-founder of TampaRep; and Steven Butler, artistic director for The Sarasota Players community theater. 

Even after 19 years, Aposporos still gets asked: Why have a festival featuring plays of only 10 minutes in length? His answer: "If you want to be a good writer, get rid of the fluff. If you can tell a great story in 10 minutes, you think hard about every word you add to get the play to two hours.".

Aposporos, a former mayor of Poughkeepsie, NY, moved to the Sarasota area with his family in 1997 and has been involved in the arts ever since, including roles as an actor and mover and shaker. 

A record 102 plays were submitted from playwrights across the state of Florida to compete in this year's Ten-Minute Play Festival. Those chosen are: 

  • "Adulation," by David Garonzik, which explores the dilemma faced by an impresario whose plans are interrupted by a dancer dealing with a health issue.
  • "All Sewn Up in Needle Park" by Donna Sorbello, which looks at an encounter between an angry teenager and a senior citizen who is at peace with life. 
  • "Balloon Release" by Keith Whalen, which profiles a woman grieving the death of her husband and the pushback she receives after releasing balloons to mourn him.
  • "Drones" by Michelle Pascua, which follows parents who let their child venture out on his own for the first time. 
  • "The Florida Highwaymen" by Don Salvo, which chronicles the struggles of two African-American male artists facing racial discrimination in 1950s Florida. 
  • "The Jar" by Fredric Sirasky, which looks at a man whose mother offers an unorthodox antidote to the stress he feels about his career.
  • "Planning a Brunch" by Eric Leventhal, which tells the story of a man at the end of his life who tries to atone for a mistake he made that hurt his niece. 
  • "Ready or Not" by Michael Anthony Mercado, which follows a gay couple whose decision to adopt reveals unseen cracks in their relationship.



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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