Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 Minute Play Festival Competition

Seoul Players, one of the two most active expat groups for putting on plays in English, held their 2nd annual play festival competition on Friday and Saturday, September 14-15. Advance bookings had to be made if one hoped to enjoy the festival, especially the final night, as the facility was rather small to hold the masses of people eager for English entertainment. Fortunately my friend made reservations and we got there early enough to even get pretty decent seats.

This festival this year attracted over 200 ten-minute submissions, more than double what was submitted last year, which also was the first time the festival was held. By last weekend the submissions had been narrowed down to 14, and then 3 of the top plays from the Friday night performances and 3 for the Saturday performances -- as determined by audience popularity -- were selected to perform in the final round this weekend.

The festival was a great opportunity for writers, actors and directors to collaborate, and in many cases, to try something new. Many of the playwrights are from the Seoul community and were excited to share their literary expertise to a large and avidly interested English community.

The 6 final plays competing in the festival were:

Melting by Eddie Zipperer
The story began with two snowpeople, a pessimistic and worrisome husband and his exuberant and optimistic wife, who stood stationary in the front lawn of someone's yard, watching the activities of life unfolding around them. The pessimistic husband feared the orange blaze of the sun and his melting condition (as the sun glowing behind them moved in the arc across the sky) and the wife after a little nap woke to the pleasing glow of the illuminated world. As they melted, the husband worried and fretted and the wife enjoyed the beautiful brilliance around them.

The Audience by Daniel Kennedy
A rather intriguing study of the people in the play playing the role of the audience as they stared at us, the audience. We, the audience, were told not to laugh, wave or interact with the actors, and the actors waved, laughed at and commented on people in the audience, us. Thus, we became the focus of the play and the players' comments were made on their realization of the role of the audience (a real play on concepts). The 10-minute psychological play was a clever expose on the complicatedness of the role people play and who, in fact, is the audience.

Surprise by Mark Harvey Levine
Two people started out in a restaurant, one a clever but boring guy who could predict what people said before they said it, and his girlfriend who needed anger management and hated that her boyfriend could finish her sentences and tell her what she wanted before she knew she wanted it. The fury of the girlfriend built, her rudeness and temper escalated and she broke up with her boyfriend in a fiery fit. The boyfriend knew it was coming, of course, but what he didn't know was that the waitress knew what he was thinking before he knew and she liked his intuitiveness in all things, except his ability to know that she was the one for him. Surprise!

The Extras by Daniel Kennedy
A group of five people sat around wasting time waiting for another friend to show up in a coffee shop, but not all who waited wanted to. Conversation flickered between them but was interrupted by two other people in the coffee ship functioning in a surprising number of roles with a lot of spoofing from well-known movies. My friend and I missed many of the allusions, and I have to wonder at times if the majority of the people caught them all, but there was a lot of sporadic laughter as realization hit from the wild acting of an auditory-only organism to a movie spoof when he realized his dying wife was in fact the last barely recognizable apparition of his ... mother.

Calibans by Ray Salcedo
Three women went to a rather exotic restaurant, two were familiar with the place and one was being introduced. The specialty was alluded to with ribald and grose commentary but the newcomer was never clearly told what exactly was the specialty of the menu. Hints were thrown out as the women slurped up their alcohol drinks, and gradually the secret of the restaurants menu became to be known as young flesh .... as a child came hopping across a corner of the stage obviously fleeing some terror. The "child", a small thin Korean-American male, with duct-taped mouth and wearing only kid's cartoon character underwear and with trailing ropes from his bound hands and feet was hopping away. The drunk women calmly told the waiter, whose eyes widened and he ran after the hopping child, threw the child over his shoulder and disappeared, promising that all was under control and the menu would soon be brought. [I was repulsed by this ... and was greatly disappointed in the audience (a reflection of society perhaps and its desire for the macabre and the morbid) when it one first place.]

The Kiss by Mark Harvey Levine
A young single girl was singing loudly and doing her laundry when a platonic but good male friend came and asked for her advice, basically how she kissed. He wasn't interested in her but had been told by a previous date that he was a bad kisser and, as he had a hot date that night, planned to kiss his date but needed advice ... and he wanted a little practice from his friend. Well, the girl being a good friend finally agreed and he practiced kissing, amid her turning and laughing at the strangeness of the situation. However, each practice kiss got better and better with her tips and his practice, and the ultimate kiss was deep and changed them both. The play beginning in light-heartedness ended with deep discussion as the complicatedness of changing emotions came to the forefront.

After the audience had enjoyed all 6 10-minute plays, each member wrote his/her top three choices on a slip of paper and submitted the vote to play-ushers. Tallies were quickly made and the outcome was a clear win for Calibans. The Audience and The Extras came in second and third.

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