Seven plays, 70 minutes


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Lauren Watt is kind of a theatrical superhero.

From crying actors to flickering lights to water splashed across the stage, the stage manager handles it all without a blonde hair out of place. 

When a play lasts only 10 minutes, every second needs to run smoothly, and Watt ensures it does seven times in a row every night of the University of Iowa’s Ten Minute Play Festival, which will run tonight through Feb. 15 in Theater Building Theater B.

“Ten Minute is, just as the name suggests, a series of 10-minute-long plays written by undergraduate playwrights from a variety of majors,” Watt said. “Plays are submitted and a selection committee goes through and selects the top plays to be produced.”

The shows are directed and designed by undergraduates as well, meaning Watt has plenty to do as stage manager: schedule rehearsals, note any technical issues, call all show cues during performances, and serve as the link among all shows. She does get help, though, from assistant stage manager Nic Steffes.

“[Watt] asked me to be her assistant stage manager, and I had no idea what Ten Minute was, but I said yes,” he said. “It’s a challenge, because it’s so many little plays that come together to make one big performance, so there’s a lot to organize. But I got into stage management because I like the problem-solving element of it, putting all the puzzle pieces together and creating something.”

The festival is beloved by many in the Theater Department, because it provides students the chance to act in a relatively low-pressure environment or direct their first plays.

“The Ten Minute Play Festival is a long-standing tradition for undergrads in the Theater Department,” said artistic director Jennifer Fawcett, a playwright herself. “It has been running since 1997 under the director of Kate Aspengren and is also a great opportunity for actors and directors to flex their muscles.”

But the festival is perhaps most important for the student playwrights, Fawcett said, who might see their words performed onstage for the first time.

“[Ten-minute shows] demand that a playwright create the world of the play, compelling characters, and a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, and fit it all into 10 minutes,” Fawcett said. “As a playwright, the only way to really learn how your play works is to produce it, which is why this festival is a great opportunity. Each of the plays has been revised through the process and is stronger for that.”

UI sophomore and playwright Alice Doherty said the process has improved her submission, “Anacostia.”

“I try to take advantage of any opportunity to produce my own work,” she said. “The Theater Department’s emphasis on new plays is one of the main reasons I came to the University of Iowa.”

The Plays

The Ten Minute Play Festival will feature seven productions and six readings, which include partially staged presentations of actors using scripts. 

“The Moon in the Boat”
By Dony Kim, directed by Hiram Alexander Orozco
“The Moon in the Boat is a play about two sailors lost in time and space at sea, and they discover the Moon has not only saved their lives but their relationship.” — Hiram Alexander Orozco

By Alice Doherty, directed by Al Katz-Mariani
“A former Serb soldier and a Bosnian girl meet on a Washington riverbank, each haunted by memory and the crimes of war.” — Alice Doherty

“Please Buy My Card”
By Maxwell Trout, directed by Matt Smith
“The play is about the trials of dealing with a crazy employee that we all have encountered at one point or another.” — Matt Smith

“Signal Seven”
By David Freeman, directed by Haley Courter
“ ‘Signal Seven’ is a rock ’n’ roll play about two truck drivers finishing a shipment on the mystical Interstate 10. Along the way, they meet a supernatural creature and are forced to make a quick decision.” — David Freeman

“Attempt 27“
By Adam Jaschen, directed by Caitlin Dorsett
"After the zombie pandemic, the world needs to grow, but romance isn't going well. Perhaps costumes would help?" — UI Arts website

“Grieving with Gary”
By Laura Townsend, directed by Alosha Robinson
“An under-attended weekly grief group run by charming sleazebag Gary finally has a new member fighting personal loss.” — Alosha Robinson

“Farmer Jane’s Haunted Romance Farm”
By Connett Croghan, directed by Jocelyn Coffman
“Do you like ghosts? OK, cool.” — Connett Croghan
“Farmer Jane’s Haunted Romance Farm” is a kiss-filled cautionary tale about what happens when you trespass on the wrong farm at the wrong time. It’s got football, mystic forces and one hell of a soundtrack.” — Jocelyn Coffman


“Copacetic,” by Frankie Rose
“Copacetic” is a 10-minute play about two people, a bullet wound, and an ambulance. A guy gets shot, and the 10 minutes consists of the conversation that occurs between the victim and the first bystander to discover him before the ambulance arrives.” — Frankie Rose

“The Jump,” by Matt Schutz
“Ryann is a daredevil. Her girlfriend, Sabrina, is not. But when the two end up in the back of a plane with parachutes on, Sabrina reaches her breaking point. Will these two be able to make the jump?” — Matt Schutz

“Incommunicado,” by Kelvin Teck Jiang Ang

“Slip,” by Maritza Pineda
“​ ‘Slip’ is about a young couple in college who find themselves at a crossroads in their relationship. Evidently wanting different things in life, they must decide whether their future is with one another or on their own.” — Maritza Pineda

“Tiras, After Death,” by Hiram Alexander Orozco
“An atheist dies and meets God and the devil in the afterlife.” — Hiram Alexander Orozco

“Dance on Our Graves,” by Miriam Randolph
“The show is about two people who find themselves trapped in a world that is filled with complete darkness. There is one light that shines in this place, and it’s the only light they have. They must sort out their differences and work together to find out where they are and why they are there.” — Miriam Randolph

Ten Minute Play Festival
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; 2 p.m. Feb. 15
Where: Theater B, UI Theater Building
Admission: Free for students, $5 for non-students

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