THUNDER BAY - Audiences were once again enthralled with stories, no matter how brief, brought to life on stage by local playwrights, actors, and directors.
The annual 10x10 Play Showcase is once again celebrating after another successful year, selling out all three performances.
“I think just the idea of the 10 short plays, the fast pace is really exciting, because you see a show and see another one right away,” said Cathi Winslow, artistic director of the 10x10 Play Showcase.
Three performances were held at Magnus Theatre this weekend including the gala opening Friday night, as well as a Saturday matinee and evening showcase.
This year, 30 plays were submitted and 10 were selected to be staged. Winslow said what seems to make 10x10 a success every year is how it not only brings back seasoned writers, but attracts new ones as well.
“Every year we have returning artists who enjoy the process and come back, but we also have new people,” she said. “We have a lot of new actors this year that haven’t worked with 10x10 before. Two of the playwrights are writing their first plays, and some of the directors are new as well.”
Playwrights are challenged with the task of writing a play that is only 10 minutes long. And while that is no easy feat, those who bring the stories to life on stage also have to be a little more creative.
“It’s been an adventure,” said Thomas McDonald, director of Bronson Carver’s Poor Yorick. “It’s a very short time period and getting the play to fit into that 10-minute window. But I have an amazing cast who has done a great job bringing Bronson’s words to life.”
Poor Yorick was a reimagining of the classic scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Yorick is not dead and he and his wife were in fact the masterminds behind the fall of the house of Hamlet.
McDonald has experience as a director with other production companies in the city, but this was his first time taking the helm of a 10-minute play.
“It’s a matter of serving the play in the best possible way, looking at it and finding the essential elements and connecting it with actors who can play exactly what you need, or bring you something you weren’t even thinking about before that makes it so much better,” McDonald said.
Looking ahead to next year, Winslow said they are planning a new project this fall that will allow 10x10 playwrights an opportunity to write a one-act play, which can be between 15 minutes to an hour.
The playwrights will work with directors through a development period for a staged reading of their work.
“We are looking forward to giving our playwrights a chance to try something new and different,” Winslow said.
But the annual 10x10 showcase with its tried and trusted formula will return next spring as well. According to Winslow, what makes it so successful is its focus on local artists and talent.
“I think the audience is excited because all the artists are local, so it’s people they recognize from other shows,” she said. “And just to see our own stories on stage is a big appeal. A lot of the plays you’ll see this year are sort of autobiographical.”
“I think there are so many different people across the community who are involved and each of those people are connected with people who are connected with people so it makes it accessible theatre for everyone,” McDonald added.