Going deep with 10-minute plays in Yellow Springs

“A 10-minute play is to a full play what a haiku is to a poem, or flash fiction is to a story or novel,” explains Virgil Hervey. “Although the briefest representation of their genres, these forms aren’t just watered-down versions of the longer pieces.” They must be complete in their own right, says Hervey, while still kin to their longer literary brethren.

Hervey is the organizer behind the Yellow Springs 10 Minute Play Festival. A resident of Yellow Springs, Hervey is also a poet and short story writer. His work has been published in more than 40 small press publications, newspapers and online magazines, including The Chicago Review, Olympia Review, Chiron Review. His short story, “The Overall Picture,” was nominated for a 2002 Pushcart Prize, one of the country’s top prizes for short literary works. Hervey, who retired from law practice in New York City before moving to Yellow Springs in 2000, has also served as an Antioch Writers’ Workshop assistant director and writes the popular A Yellow Springs Blog (ayellowspringsblog.blogspot.com), a source of “news, gossip and opinion” about the village of Yellow Springs.

In 2010, however, a new form of writing caught Hervey’s fancy: the 10-minute-play.

“I attended a 10-minute-play festival organized in 2009 by Holly Hudson [also a former Antioch Writers’ Workshop assistant director] and was immediately captivated by the form as an audience member. Then I started thinking about what I could do with this form as a writer,” says Hervey.

The next year, Bob Swaney, owner of the Corner Cone in Yellow Springs, held a 10-minute-play festival; that year, Virgil’s 10-minute play, “Parking Spaces,” was one of six featured in the festival, and was voted “Audience Favorite.”

That experience firmly hooked Hervey on his love of the form, which, he says, “challenges the playwright, the director, the actors … how much can you achieve in ten minutes in theatre? The form calls for minimal set, few actors,and minimal if any scene changes, and yet, so much can be conveyed — from humor to making a point about life — in just 10 minutes on the stage … if it’s done right.”

However, Hervey learned that managing an annual 10-minute-play festival didn’t fit either Hudson’s or Swaney’s schedules. So, rather than let the concept fade away, Hervey determined to organize it himself in 2011.With the assistance of Kay Reimers, producer for Center Stage Theatre Company in Yellow Springs, Hervey did just that; the festival was held for two nights at the Presbyterian Church in Yellow Springs, and drew 200 attendees, “a success beyond anything we imagined,” says Hervey.

And that success was enough to inspire Hervey to make the 10-minute play festival an annual event. This year’s Yellow Springs 10-minute Play Festival will again be presented at the Presbyterian Church, and is slated for a two-night run on Oct. 26 and 27, with Hervey organizing (and contributing a play), with assistance from Reimers. (Check Hervey’s blog closer to the date for news of specific time and ticket information.)

Scripts — for plays with a running time of no longer than 10 minutes — will be accepted for review from writers who live or work in Yellow Springs or Greene County’s Miami Twp.

“We’re keeping this local focus to make sure that area playwrights have a chance to see their work produced,” explains Hervey.

The deadline for script submissions is Sept. 7. Scripts may be sent as e-mail attachments to gunchpress@yahoo.com or mailed to Gunch Press, Box 544, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.

At Books & Co.

The Books & Co. store at The Greene, in Beavercreek, will host the following events:

• Today, 11 a.m., Chris Colfer, co-star of the hit TV show “Glee,” will introduce his new children’s book, “The Land of Stories.” Line numbers will be given out beginning at 10 am. Colfer, is a Golden Globe-winning actor best known for his role as Kurt Hummel on “Glee,” was honored as a member of the 2011 Time 100, Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

• Wednesday, 7 p.m., Karen White, author of “The Beach Trees,” will present her new novel, “Sea Change.” White has written 15 books; she refers to her books as “grit lit,” Southern women’s fiction, and they are favorites with book clubs.

Uncorked meeting

Uncorked will meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 6, a Monday, at Rumbleseat Wine, 5853 Far Hills Ave., to discuss Andrew Davidson’s “The Gargoyle,” in which the narrator, recovering from disfiguring burns, meets a sculptress who tries to convince him they have known each other for over seven centuries. Join the book club for a glass of wine and lively discussion. For more information, contact Mandy Shannon at Centerville Library, (937)433-8091, or Woodbourne Library, (937) 435-3700, or go online to www.wclibrary.info.

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