Mark Saunders, author and playwright, recently sent me info regarding his intriguing workshop, ‘How to Write the 10-Minute Play’, part of the Encuentro de Teatro San Miguel event held August 26-September 2/12. I have heard from a few people that the event was an overwhelming success.
I was not that familiar with 10-minute plays but my curiosity has got the best of me. I plan to attend next year’s Encuentro de Teatro San Miguel events and hope to see you there.
Attending a theatre workshop is a great way to check out San Miguel and meet like-minded expats simultaneously. But be prepared – San Miguel is an artists’ paradise. Once you’ve been there you’ll want to return. Meanwhile, please enjoy the following synopsis of this summer’s event!
“F. Scott Fitzgerald said “there are no second acts in America.” However, I live in the middle of Mexico and I am surrounded by people who are very familiar with second acts. In fact, many of the expats I’ve met have more than one second act tucked in their belt. If you’ve always wanted to paint but never had the time, here in San Miguel de Allende, there is no shortage of scenes to paint or instructors ready to help guide your brush. Here, too, you can give voice to your inner poet, dance to the natural light fantastic, write your memoir (or, if you’re too shy, write someone else’s memoir). It’s time – and with time on your hands – not just to release the hounds but to release your creative juices.
Case in point, recently I had the pleasure of leading a four-day workshop for writers and actors on the 10-minute play. Accomplished playwrights including David Henry Hwang, Steven Dietz, Tina Howe, Athol Fugard, Brian Friel, Theresa Rebeck and Tony Kushner have all written 10-minute plays. This dynamic and challenging form, “the American theater’s haiku,” has been embraced by actors and audiences around the globe.
So what is it? A successful ten-minute play is a compressed theatrical experience, with a beginning, middle, and end (but not necessarily in that order), almost always set in one location, with limited staging requirements, and almost always featuring a small cast, often only two to three characters. It’s not merely a scene from a longer play, a skit or a monologue. It is a play.
My favorite quote about the form comes from Jon Jory, at the time a producer-director at Actors Theatre of Louisville and one of the earliest advocates of this short genre: “A ten-minute play can tell a story that forty minutes or two hours would have ruined, and we’ve all gotten stuck with that guy at a party.”
Each day for one week, from Monday through Thursday, the workshop met for a 90-minute session and then the participants would go home and work on their play. Their play had to be finished by Thursday because on Friday we were scheduled to hold a public reading of what they had created. The pressure was on, the clock was ticking.
I wasn’t sure how many of them would actually have a play to share because, let’s face it, we’re all pretty much off the clock and this town, simply put, is full of distractions. Living in San Miguel is like being on a cruise ship. You can sit in a lounge chair and read a book until the sun goes down, sipping a fancy drink. Or you can be in a virtual conga line from morning to night, moving from one activity to the next until your legs go down.
The final tally? Out of the ten participants in the four-day workshop, all ten started and finished their plays.
I was both thrilled and stunned by the quality of the work they produced and the variety of themes they covered, as well as by the compelling characters and engaging conflicts created. There were plays on everything from the house-sitting gig from Hell to a family of head-shrinking cannibals struggling to maintain their traditions. Other plays dealt with cancer, putting on a farewell party for a stranger who is dying, the events of 9/11, and an adult son changing his last name against his mother’s wishes; a dystopian downer and a tattoo parlor upper; budding love and a strained father-daughter relationship.
Again, it wasn’t just the variety that impressed me … it was the quality of their work that took my breath away. They walked into the workshop on Monday without a play and by the end of Thursday’s session they had completed the first draft of their first play. Yes, it was a ten-minute play but the deed was done. I like to think for at least some of them, their first ten-minute play will serve as a gateway drug and they will go on to write longer plays, maybe even a full-length.
I want to thank each member of the workshop for sharing their talent and their stories. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind being stuck with any of them at a party.
With a standing ovation even though I’m sitting down, here are their plays, in the order in which they were presented at the public reading: Off Season by L. Randy Kraft; Done While You Wait by Marty Newman; In Concert by Mary Birmingham; Mother Knows Best by Lee Bellavance; Family Recipe by Rick Roberts; Priorities by Teresa Peterson; By Any Other Name by Anne Campbell; My Father and I by Jill Nieglos; Pink Slips by David Stea; and Bon Voyage by Deborah Stein Kent
No more second acts in America? Try moving to Mexico. Our ten-minute play workshop was full of second acts. And they were wonderful.”
Article submitted by Mark Saunders, San Miguel full-time resident and author of ‘Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak’, a humorous memoir about dropping out late in life, selling almost everything, and moving to the middle of Mexico.
‘Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak’ is available in both paperback and ebook formats from FUZE Publishing (www.fuzepublishing.com), Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iPad.
To purchase the book and visit Mark, please click THIS LINK