Staged readings of short, original plays will again constitute one of the most popular events in Durango on May 18. Area actors and directors will mount the first iteration of our own 10-minute play festival.
An invited jury will select the grand prize winner. Audience members will vote for a favorite. Both will be fully staged in mid-October with the other four entrants – all with sets, costumes and memorized dialogue. Staged readings involve actors carrying scripts with simple blocking.
The two-part model for short-form plays has been a huge success around the world. It all began as an experiment at fringe festivals in the early ’70s. The miniature form found an institutional home in 1977 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky. Since then, the Humana Festival of New American Plays has offered a 10-minute play festival annually.
Humana set the template, and DAC followed suit, thanks to Dinah and Terry Swan, who launched the project eight years ago. First, there’s a call for scripts, then tiered readings by panels of volunteers followed by a narrowing selection process with staff members. When finalists have been chosen, staged readings follow, and finally, fully staged performances.
DAC assembles a group of 25 local readers who this year sifted through 161 submissions from all over the country as well as Ireland, England and Canada. Four elimination rounds resulted in six finalists. Playwrights’ names will be revealed May 18 to keep the process as trouble-free as possible.
Former DAC Artistic Director and Theatre Manager Theresa Carson has returned to shepherd the plays through the staged readings.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.