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Lab Theater presenting its first ever ‘Festival of Tens’


The Laboratory Theater of Florida is presenting its first-ever festival of ten-minute plays this weekend. Performance will be at 8:00 p.m. on April 26 and 27 and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.

The ten minute play format has taken the theater world by storm.

“It’s all part of a national trend with 10-minute play festivals happening everywhere,” notes News-Press Arts & Entertainment Writer Charles Runnells. “Now that trend visits Southwest Florida in a big way with two events happening this weekend: The Laboratory Theater of Florida’s new ‘The Festival of Tens’ and the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs’s third-annual ‘Stage It! 10 Minute Play Competition.’”

“Kentucky’s Actors Theatre of Louisville popularized the concept for 28 years with its National Ten-Minute Play Contest,” Runnells points out. Now similar events are taking place across the nation, from North Carolina, Indiana and Iowa to New York and Washington, D.C.

But don’t conflate short with easy. They are creative, experimental and complex.

As actors Kristen Wilson, Melanie Payne, Steven Coe and Maddy Hayes ably illustrate in the very first play performed in the Festival of Tens, ten minute plays are challenging to craft. They deal with one critical moment in a character’s life and, in a few words, cut through exposition to conflict and change. They can be rip-roaringly funny, romantic, touching or serious, and they are always a surprise. They are akin to well-written poems that capture vignettes of life and make us say, “Of course! That’s what it’s like.” And they give audiences a chance to hear many different theater voices and experience a range of moods.

The Festival of Tens will showcase the work of five adult students who have studied with Lab Theater playwright Louise Wigglesworth for several years. Melanie Payne, Linda Saether, Candice Sanzari, Patrick Erhardt and Nancy Stetson offer a quick-moving evening of plays that will entertain and provoke thought, discussion and even some lively debate. Some of the plays have had professional productions and staged readings in other cities; some are in the spotlight for the first time.

“I’ve been a journalist for most of my adult life and one of the challenges in writing for a newspaper is ‘writing tight,’ observes Melanie Payne. “A 10-inch article is often more difficult to construct than a 30-inch one. I’ve found the same thing is true with the 10-minute play. It’s a challenge to get all you want to say into so few words.”

“Writing a ten-minute play is letting your creativity take flight,” adds Patrick Erhardt. “An idea becomes an outline that develops wings on paper then lifts off as a script soaring out for all to enjoy.”

“Writing a ten-minute play has been creatively challenging, yet ultimately rewarding,” Candice Sanzari reports. “There’s no better satisfaction than finally getting to the heart of what your characters had in mind for you, as a writer, and expressing that not only concisely, but effectively. Being able to see a play of my own produced is something I’ll always cherish and be proud of. I can’t wait to see how audiences respond to what each of us has created. ”

Tickets for the Festival of Tens are available to purchase on or by calling the box office at 239-218-0481. The Festival of Tens is graciously sponsored by Gail Rothenberg and John Levy.

April 25, 2019.


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