10-Minute Festival returns for 14th year


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A young man rolls across stage and pops up claiming he is a superhero. A young girl talks about her horrid experiences of being sexually assaulted. And a goofy character dressed in a furry costume turns out to be a cupcake.

These are only a few characters seen in the variety of plays being performed at this year’s 10-Minute Play Festival.

The 14th-annual 10-Minute Play Festival will begin at 8 p.m. today and continue with performances at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Feb. 20. All performances are in the University of Iowa Theatre Building’s Theatre B. Admission is $5, free for UI students with valid IDs.

Kate Aspengren, an adjunct assistant professor of theater, started the festival to give undergraduate playwrights an opportunity to see their work produced.

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Playwrights turned in two 10-minute plays in late October. Graduate students in playwriting read the scripts and made recommendations. All scripts were then read by festival coordinators Aspengren and UI alumnus Eric Burchett, who made the final selections. Of the 70 submissions, seven were selected to be produced. The panel chose pieces that worked best as a 10-minute performance.

This year’s selections include “The Prospect,” by Eva Adderley, “Gone Postal,” by Lauren Baker, “Still/Fly,” by Melia Barbour, “Cupcake,” by Kjai Block, “Sweep it Under,” by Bethany Jackson, “Little Lion Man,” by Kelly Maginnis, and “Spying on a Budget,” by Marek Miller.

“You get to see a lot of different pieces from different genres in a short, manageable amount of time,” said Jeremy Anderson, a freshman in the theater program.

Anderson plays a henchman named Bob in “Spying on a Budget.” The piece is about how spy villains react to the economic crash. Miller, a sophomore theater major, originally wrote the play for eighth-graders in Delaware after a request for a play with a spy theme. Miller then adjusted the work to be something both kids and parents would enjoy.

“Undergrads and grad students alike should all deserve to have a chance to perform and write and have that viewed upon the masses,” said Block, a junior playwright.

Block wrote the play “Cupcake” to incorporate interesting movement and communication. It is about three blind people — nobody, somebody, and anybody — trying to eat a cupcake.

“[The festival] gives a lot of people a chance to do introductory acting,” Anderson said.

Each playwright was assigned a director in December. Together the playwright and director chose the actors for each piece but didn’t focus on the performance aspect until after winter break.

The festival offers many opportunities for new actors, such as UI senior David Delgado. Though this is his first time participating in the event, he has attended the festival.

“It’s exciting to be in it now,” he said. “It’s my first time doing any acting here at Iowa.”

He acts in “Little Lion Man,” a piece about a girl who is bullied at school and wants to commit suicide, but the lion talks her out of it.

“It’s a really powerful piece,” said sophomore theater major Alison Spinello.

The festival gives playwrights a chance to hear and see their piece performed and gives actors the opportunity to take the stage, helping all improve their skills.

“It’s a great way to test out different things,” said UI junior Rachel Dudley, the director of “Spying on a Budget.” “It’s a great way to get everyone involved.”

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