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10 minutes of fame

BY JOSIE JONES | FEBRUARY 11, 2010 7:30 AM

Laura Willis/The Daily Iowan
UI students Daisy McKinlay (left) and Kyle Niemer (right) perform a scene from “Quintelligate” in the Theatre Building on Tuesday. The two are a part of the 10-Minute Play Festival, which will open tonight.
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This is Amy Haeussler’s favorite part of the year. Not because Valentine’s Day is soon approaching and not because she will graduate in a few months. What Haeussler loves most about February is the UI theater department’s most popular tradition, the 10-Minute Play Festival.

“It’s what kept me in the department,” she said. “At first, I was intimidated and almost dropped the major, but then I was cast in 10-Minute freshman year.”

The 10-Minute Play Festival will begin today in the Theatre Building’s Theatre B. Performances will continue through Feb. 14; Thursday through Saturday shows will begin at 8 p.m., and the Feb. 14 show will start at 2 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door or free with valid student ID.

While Haeussler has acted in the festival for the three years, this is the first time she will be both a playwright and an actor. In “Event Gar-Day,” she plays a janitor pretending to be the director of a theater production. “A Diner,” a play Haeussler wrote in her Playwriting 1 class and submitted to the festival, is about two women stuck in a diner at 2 in the morning after driving their car into a pond.

“It’s so exciting for me to be able to see something I wrote to be put on,” the UI senior said.

The 10-Minute Play Festival is strictly for undergraduates — it allows them to participate in the department that can be dominated by graduate students.

With eight plays at around 10 minutes each, the performance nears two hours. But production stage manager Kizzy Marco isn’t worried about audiences losing interest.

“All the plays are very different,” she said. “I think the audience is really going to appreciate that.”

Of the 39 plays submitted, only eight were selected to be performed. Marco said playwright faculty member Kate Aspengren, along with Eric Burchett, narrowed the submissions, looking for well-written plays with good character development.

Because the department wants to focus on the content of the plays, the set, costumes, and props are minimal.

“It’s more about the 10-minute plays that are well-written,” Marco said. “We want to hear writing that’s brand-new and the acting of undergrads rather than big fluffy sets and crazy painting jobs. It really strips it down to the art of theater, which in this case, is the playwriting and acting.”

The annual tradition is in its 13th year of production. While it’s only her first year, she doesn’t think 10-Minute has lost any of its entertainment.

“It’s really fun, and I think people who are in it would say the same thing if they called home to talk about it,” she said. “This is more about enjoying what we’re doing and having fun while we’re at school.”

Haeussler agreed, saying she doesn’t want to graduate because she’ll miss the festival.

“I’m really sad this is the last time I get to be a part of it,” she said. “It’s my favorite thing in the department. I just love it. Even if you’re not a part of it, it’s a great thing to come and experience.”


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