Upcoming Events

Thirteenth Biannual Festival of Ten
Saturday, October 8, 2022,  7:30

A Theatrical Smorgasbord Awaits!
Thirteenth Biannual Festival of Ten Features 10-Minute Plays Chosen from International Search


Brockport, NY – More than two decades ago, the Department of Theatre and Music Studies at SUNY Brockport produced their first 10-minute play festival, having started planning for it two years prior to that. Somehow, nearly 25 years have flown by, and after putting out an international call to playwrights, 500 submissions were received for this year’s edition. These were then whittled down to the final choices, culminating in the 13th biannual Festival of Ten. The collection of 10 ten-minute plays will have its first performance during the College’s Homecoming weekend on Friday, October 7, 2022, at 7:30 pm at the Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley Street, Brockport. Tickets are $17/General, $12/Senior Citizens, Brockport Alumni, Faculty, and Staff, and $9/Students, and are available at http://fineartstix.brockport.edu, at the Tower Box Office, or by phone at (585) 395-2787. PLEASE

NOTE: SUNY Brockport’s up-to-date COVID-19 prevention guidelines can be found on our ticketing website, the Fine Arts Series Facebook page, and at brockport.edu/coronavirus. Compliance with campus protocols is required in order to attend any of our performances or events.

As the plays for that first Festival were being read and reviewed, the 21st century was looming. Y2K was a serious threat. To further put things in perspective, if you were born on opening night of that first Festival of Ten, there’s a good chance you might have already graduated from college.

Because not every play is read by the same set of adjudicators, there are occasional anomalies that pop up. For instance, this year, three of the plays have LGBTQ+ themes, two plays feature Greek or Roman gods, and two others feature animals. In another interesting turn of events, Eric Mansfield’s “Witnesses to the Execution” is based on true-life events.

A Playwrights Symposium featuring several of the authors whose works are part of the Festival of Ten XIII will take place on Saturday, October 22. After spending the day with the casts and crews of their plays, the playwrights will attend the final performance of the Festival and participate in a post-performance discussion.

Given that the last Festival, in 2021, was a virtual one—by necessity—XIII promises a return to the conviviality and bonding that can occur with the large cast and festive Festival atmosphere that the theatre department fosters. “Even if you are in more than one of the 10 plays—which can happen—you still spend a lot of time backstage, waiting for your curtain call, says department chair, P. Gibson Ralph. “Therefore, a lot of bonding goes on, which makes the switch in time slot on our season helpful to those who are getting involved in our productions as freshmen. They walk away with wonderful theatrical memories and an instant Brockport family.”

The 10-minute format is more difficult than it might appear. As with any play, the piece needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. With less time to develop characters, the playwright is automatically challenged, as are the actors and directors, who are trying to convey the playwright’s intention. Regardless of any inherent challenges, the Democrat and Chronicle has called the Festival of Ten “a titillating offering of sophisticated, diverse and fulfilling theatre.”

The birth of the Festival of Ten stems from a similar program that Jon Jory, artistic director of the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, instituted at the Humana Theatre Festival. Ralph recalled that “since it was, and is, always so difficult for new playwrights to get their works produced, or even read, the 10-minute play was developed, allowing authors to have their voices heard.” This concept spread like wildfire, especially in academic and regional theatrical settings. “There were other 10-minute play festivals in our area, but we were the first in the region to cast such a wide net in soliciting plays,” Ralph is quick to point out. “This ensured that we would get submissions from the most talented writers in the genre and, being an international solicitation, we could occasionally receive plays about how the rest of the world views various situations.” As the Festival of Ten grew, it helped cement the department’s reputation with the Dramatists Guild of America, a professional organization that ensures the welfare of professional playwrights. The Guild became a resource for alternative methods of soliciting the plays and was more than happy to work with a Festival in which their membership could not only be well-represented but “treated fairly.”

Another affiliation that has helped increase the Festival’s stature would be that of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Ruth Childs, an associate professor in the department, chaired Region II of the KCACTF’s National Playwriting Program for several years. The KCACTF also helped solidify Festival processes, such as instituting the “blind” reading of the plays, meaning that the screener would not know who authored the play. Though individual screeners can read upwards of 100 plays, as the procedures continued to evolve, it was decided that no group of the exact same three screeners read more than the same 25 plays.

As a designer, Ralph enjoys looking at the 10 plays that have been selected. “Often there is a theme that helps unify the scenic design. One year, it seemed that a majority of the plays had people entering or dramatically exiting through doors, so doors became the motif for my design. Another year, it was chairs. This year, because of the Greek and Roman gods, it’s columns.”

“The auditions and casting process are so different and fun,” adds Childs. “Usually a director can pick and choose their cast from whoever auditioned, but with 10 directors in the casting session, these are run like a football draft. You might end up getting a first pick and a third pick amongst your cast, but everything works out for the best. It’s quite jovial in those casting sessions.”

The memory that strikes Childs as “meaningful and special” is that of seeing the entire cast bow at the end of the evening. “People who have been on stage in 10 different plays coming together for the joy of theatre. Gets me every time.”

Performances of Festival of Ten are on October 7, 8, 20, 21, and 22, at 7:30 pm. There is also a matinee on Sunday, October 9, at 2 pm.

Plays of the

 The Annoying of Europa by Ken Green
In one corner of the Universe, the Me Too movement seems to have infiltrated Greek mythology, where someone has to take the bull by the horns.

The Brooch by Lawson Caldwell
A piece of costume jewelry and a kind word inspires a career…
and a friendship more than 50 years in the making.

Chasing a Dream by Marilyn Zerlak
Dreams: Sometimes light and joyful; sometimes dark and mysterious.
Wouldn’t we all like someone to help guide us through our dreams and help them make sense?

Hellbender: Live! by Valerie Work
Ron, the Eastern hellbender salamander, is excited to be featured on a daytime talk, but the interview deteriorates when he is confronted with a threat to his riverbed home.

Jeopardy, WY by Chris Karmiol
When in jeopardy, one should always let their defense mechanisms kick in.
But be prepared if it’s the singing of a showtune that gets you out of a sticky wicket!

Mister In Between by Dave Carley
Jenny woke up this morning to a marriage proposal –on a billboard facing her house.
She’s all for marriage but first, she must find out who exactly the proposal is from...and fast.

A Single Person Talks to Cupid on Valentine’s Day by Jessica Moss
Well, it’s about a single person who talks to Cupid on Valentine’s Day.
And, oh yeah… Cupid talks back.

Unleashed by Emmett McConnell
Is man’s best friend also woman’s best friend? Does “best friend” really mean matchmaker?

Where Did We Go Wrong?! by Jim Sampson
In a topsy-turvy world, a magazine found under a teenager’s bed
leads to some provocative revelations…

Witnesses to the Execution by Eric Mansfield
Three journalists debate the death penalty at a 24-hour diner just hours
after serving as public witnesses to a midnight execution.

Location Tower Fine Arts Center Mainstage at 180 Holley Street