For the eighth year, Durango Arts Center will stage its 10-Minute Play Festival, the final stage of a multi-tiered competition.
The contest starts with playwrights submitting their plays. This year, there were 162 of them, said Mandy Gardner, theater coordinator. From those, readers whittled that number down to just six. In May, there were staged readings of those plays, and that is when a panel of judges voted for the grand prize winner. This year’s winner was “After Her.”
“It’s a really sweet play about a mother who has dementia and the father is trying to navigate that with a daughter who really sees that the mother is going downhill, and sort of taking the father with her,” Gardner said. “It’s sad, but it’s lovely.”
The audience of the readings had a hand in the judging, picking “Transforming your Life through Hula-Hoop” as its People’s Choice winner.
“It’s hilarious,” Gardner said. “Two women go to take a class and the instructor is rather odd. It’s a very funny one.”
After the readings, all six of the plays – the finalists and the winners – are given the full production treatment in October.
“We have six different directors, and it’s all local talent, which is just so cool,” Gardner said, adding that two of the directors are Fort Lewis College students; one just graduated from FLC; and three are more-seasoned directors who have done it before.
The cast is all local, too, Gardner said, and the turnout was more than they expected.
“We had auditions in August and had so many people come out,” she said. “It was really hard to cast; we wanted to cast everybody.”
While entertaining, the play festival is more than that, Gardner said.
“It’s hard to get plays published, and not just published, performed. To be able to have this for emerging playwrights, especially, is pretty big because you have the chance to get your show on stage,” she said. “Plays don’t live on the page; they live on the stage, so it might be great when you’re writing it, but then to see it come to life, it’s a whole different thing.”
Gardner said that it is not just for emerging playwrights; there are people who have written plays for years who enter the competition because it is just exciting see how their words can come to life and resonate – maybe win.
“The other thing about doing this here is we’re community theater, and this is one of the truest ways that we serve our community,” she said.
The six plays are:
“These Boots are Made for Hikin’” by Shawn Samuelson Henry, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Directed by Leigh Meigs. Cast: Ric, Michael Chapman; and Ethan, Jake Yost.“Transforming Your Life Through Hula-Hoop” (People’s Choice Award) by Kelly Van Oosbree, Commerce City. Directed by Lexi Hooper. Cast: Kathy, Melissa May; Jen, Jessey Hampton; and Shakti-Dodd, Linda Mack.“Good Taste” by Bob Kolsby, Brooklyn, New York. Directed by Izabella Gray. Cast: Amanda, Joy Kilpatrick; and Daniel, Derek Ryter.“The Anonymous Donor” by Mark Nutter, New York. Directed by Jake Yost. Cast: Jim, John Garza; and The Donor, Rebecca Gilbert.“The Mudgett Lattice” by Rob Walker, Greeley. Directed by Wendy Ludgewait. Cast: Dr. Hayer, Saundra Johnson; Brian Neems, Brian Devine; and Julian, Julian Zastrocky.“After Her” (grand prize winner), by Elizabeth Hofeld, Los Angeles. Directed by Marc Arbeeney. Cast: Arthur, Brian McAleer; CJ, Jane Ulrich; and Anna, J.J. Simms.The festival will kick off tonight (Friday) and will end with a matinee Sunday.