The Ten-Minute Play Festival
By: Melissa Romberg
The Ten-Minute Play Festival is a series of short ten-minute plays written, directed and performed by students at Conard. The directors are a part of the Specialized Performance Study (SPS) class, and they focus on the behind-the-stage aspects of theatre. This is the fourth year the Ten-Minute Plays have been produced.
Corinne Kravetz, the school’s acting teacher, described what the SPS students do to produce the ten-minute plays.
“Every year, the kids direct these short plays. They have to direct, block, cast, get the costumes and props, and figure out their sets,” Kravetz said. “It’s a really large project, and they rehearse after school. They have to put in a lot of extra hours to do this. There’s so much student leadership, and it really gives the students a chance to be in charge and gives them lots of responsibility.”
Some of the student directors expressed that they have a deeper appreciation for the hard work Mrs. Kravetz does in being a director.
“It’s been really fun, but it’s been different having to see the other side of things that Mrs. Kravetz does all the time, and we just never really had to,” said Ally McKenna.
Another student director, Stephanie Reuning-Scherer, said, “It was challenging putting everything together, especially having to hold to everyone else’s schedule and all the things that they need to do, including the things that I needed to do. It was really helpful in learning about organization and relating with people and having a good time, but also having to be in charge.”
The student directors choose the plays they produce from a number of short scripts that have been written by professional play writers. However, some of the SPS students wrote their own plays.
“I was deciding on whether I should look through the books to choose plays or write my own,” said Olivia Sokale, who wrote and directed her play, Just a Prank. “I decided to write my own play, because I could make it my own. Writing wasn’t really that hard for me, and it actually made the process easier for me overall, because when you’re writing a play, you think of blocking as you’re writing it; you think of direction; and how you want the scene to play out. So that really made the directing process a lot easier.”
“I got the idea for my play during summer vacation -- it just came to me,” said Ray Plocharczyk, who wrote and directed A Charlie Brown High School Reunion. “It’s an entire whirlwind, because you have to set time apart from school to write a clear and concise play in order to perform for the Ten-Minute Plays, and that’s not easy. As an actor I always like to say that laughter is the best feeling in the world. Now as a director, I disagree with my own statement because hearing people laugh at the things that you put up on stage is probably the best feeling in the world.”
“Throughout Acting 1 and 2, we focused on what happens on stage,” said Lilly Gallinoto, one of the students who wrote and directed her own play, The Jersey Shore Medium. “With the Ten-Minute Plays, we got to take a look at what happens off stage, and all of the work that’s put in by the directors. It was really fun to be able to see the other side after being a cast member for my freshman and sophomore years.”
One of the student playwrights submitted a script for review by the student directors, even though he isn’t a member of SPS. Nathan Souza, a junior, got his idea for his play about a Thanksgiving dinner gone wrong when he was listening to Lizzo.
“One day, I was listening to the Queen Lizzo herself, and I was like, ‘I think that her influence and her music could be made into a funny play. I think that would sit well with students and even some parents.’ So I just opened Google Drive and started writing a play. It turned out pretty well,” Souza said.
Charlie Uthgenannt directed Souza’s play, called A Lizzo Family Reunion.
“Nathan had a great script, and it was fun to be able to say ‘OK, here are my suggestions as a director. How we can how we change some of the things in the script to make it work with my vision?’” Uthgenannt said. “It was fun navigating the difficulties with directing a writer. I was thinking, ‘This is his work, this is his baby, and I need to now take his work and interpret it.’ I used his script as source material for my vision.”
“When you give a play to a director, it’s like yes, you wrote it, but it’s theirs to interpret,” said Souza. “At first, I don’t think Charlie and I were seeing eye to eye, but he was the director. In the end, the product is exactly what we both wanted from the start. I don’t want it any other way. It’s so perfect. I just love it.”
Beyond the opportunities students get to write, direct and act in the plays, there are opportunities for students who want to work behind the scenes as well.
“You get to see how the show is put together,” said Sebastian Krueger, who operated the soundboard. “You get to see all the bits and pieces, and have each component of the director, the actors, house and backstage crew bringing on a set of plans to put on the show. They have an awesome time, and it’s such a satisfying feeling. And, the people you meet are awesome.”
“I’ve learned a lot of great leadership skills that make me more confident as a human being, but I also really like the cast and crew and group of directors,” said Nora Wilson, who was the stage manager. “I can’t wait to be a director next year.”
“Ten Minute Plays is a great experience and we’re lucky to live in a school district that values theatre and the arts so much that we have the opportunity to do this. And all the different levels of responsibility and the ability to express ourselves creatively.” Ally McKenna & Stephanie Reuning-Scherer