Spotlight on Emerging Playwrights During UH's 10-Minute Play Festival

Throughout the spring semester, nine rising playwrights have worked diligently on short works. After readings, rewrites and edits, their plays are now ready share with Houston audiences.

This weekend, the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance presents the 10-Minute Play Festival in Studio 208 (second floor of UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building). Plays run April 30 – May 3.

Tickets for the festival are $20, $15 (faculty, staff, alumni) and $10 (students). They can be purchased online here or by calling 713-743-2929. Performance times are as follows:

  • 7:30 p.m., April 30, May 1, May 2
  • 1:30 p.m., May 2, 3

Among the plays that will be presented are six written by students in UH’s playwriting and dramaturgy program and three selected from a national competition. Guiding UH students through the process of developing their works is associate professor Rob Shimko.

According to Shimko, students’ plays have gone through an extensive development process that includes readings with actors, roundtable discussions and revisions.

“One of the most important parts of the workshop process is the involvement of the actors,” Shimko said. “Having actors reading their plays aloud makes each character come to life for the playwrights. They notice things they hadn't before about their own plays.  Often, the plots improve, and the characters become more complex and interesting as a result of the process.”

Plays selected from the competition were reviewed by UH dramaturgy students. They will be performed as they were submitted.

Works to be presented this year include:

  • “Penn Station” by Sean Crawford
  • “Next Year, Transformers!” by Paul Donnelly
  • “Matters of the Heart” by Rachel Halicki
  • “Scald” by Kendall Kaminski
  • “Fraternal” by Troy Loftin
  • “Flickers” by David Olivarez
  • “Valid I.D.” by Corey Pajka
  • “To: Charlie” by Caitlin Turnage
  • “Baby Doll” by Cecelia White

The plays produced represent the “cream of the crop” from UH’s student playwrights and some of the country’s most promising writers, Shimko said. Audiences should expect a range of material from writers who are just getting warmed up in their careers, he added.

“Audiences get to see nine different complete plays in the time it normally takes to watch one,” Shimko said. “Each play on the bill is unique from the others in terms of structure, genre, imagery and tone. We have thrillers, comedies, tearjerkers and romances.  It's an enormous range of emotions to experience in such a short span.  Plus, yes, audiences are getting a first look at emerging voices who we expect will go on to do great things. How cool is it to see an early play by someone who might well go on to be the next great American playwright or screenwriter?”