Wrap Up: Tens Across the Board

The 4th Annual 10×10 Play Showcase

Story by Kyle Poluyko, Photos by Marty Mascarin

The 4th Annual 10×10 Play Showcase was presented at a sold-out gala event on April 30th at the Finlandia Club. The event featured ten plays by ten playwrights, each ten minutes long, selected from a number of submissions. The showcase was the culmination of playwriting, acting and directing workshops – in addition to roundtable readings – that began in November. Also known as “flash drama,” the ten-minute play format is a prominent and popular subgenre of the short or one-act play in both theatre festivals and writing competitions. The works selected for dramatic presentation at this year’s 10×10 brought together both new and returning writers to the showcase, putting plays featuring diverse characters and themes ranging from the light and comedic to the dark and unsettling on the stage.

Master of ceremonies Janis Swanson, whose futuristic play Walk Away Forward was also featured in the showcase, kept the audience thoroughly engaged and entertained with delightful wit and charm as she roved through the full house, introducing the playwrights and sharing anecdotes. Sound design, lighting, and audience reception were enhanced for this year’s showcase, firmly establishing 10×10 as a remarkable and important theatrical event in Thunder Bay.

Highlights of the evening included Susan Rogers’ Sperm in the Fast Lane, in which the revelation of the true parentage of twenty-something woman carrying her own unexpected child throws her world into upheaval with a shocking twist. Jordan Lehto’s Noise was a humorous yet provocative and topical examination of how social media clouds personal judgement and creates self-doubt. No More Jokes by John Pringle, which took the Audience Choice first place, was a well-crafted vignette about two buddies out fishing and how joking reveals both the lighter and darker sides of human character. Audience Choice for second place went to Carol Sauve’s Shacked, a tale of the hilarious and deserved comeuppance a philandering husband receives at the hands of his wife and mistress.

Both Theatre of the Absurd by Taina Chahal, the depiction of one young Muslim man’s nightmarish experience with the TSA in the post 9-11 world, and Breathe by Charles Campbell, about two adult children reconciling their long-held, conflicted feelings about their deceased and troubled parents, were powerful pieces. However, the resonant complexities in both of these important stories would be better served if expanded beyond the ten minute format.

10×10 is a fantastic convergence of writers, actors, and directors, though it is truly the writers who are at the forefront of this event. Plays selected for the event are at the mercy of the actors’ and directors’ skills. Alycia Novak, whose play Hello told the harrowing story of a woman victimized once by a predator and again by the system in place to protect her – and garnered the Audience Choice third place – said that it can be a struggle to let go of her work and vision to be executed by others. However, she added that the end result is worth it. “These are topics I think need a voice,” Novak said. “It’s important that theatre not only be entertaining but also create a conversation.”

For more information and to view the full 2016 Showcase digital programme detailing all ten plays, playwrights, directors and actors visit 10x10tbay.ca