Five wildly diverse short plays will share the stage for four eclectic performances when the USC Dept. of Theatre and Dance presents the 10 Minute Play Festival, February 23-26 at the Lab Theatre.
Show times are at 8pm nightly. Tickets are $10 and are available online at sc.universitytickets.com or at the door. The Lab Theatre is located at 1400 Wheat St. on the first floor of the Booker T. Washington building. Some plays include content that may not be appropriate for children.
Enjoy a fast-paced journey through laughter, heartbreak and everything in between in this collection of 10-minute plays, each directed by a different member of USC’s theatre performance faculty. Featured plays include:
- The Bear (by Anton Chekhov / Directed by Dustin Whitehead), a 1900 comedy about two irascible characters finding love amid the most contentious of circumstances;
- Gershwin’s Last Ride (by USC alum Ryan Stevens / Directed by Patrick Michael Kelly), a rodeo-set play about a prize-winning bull and the hot-shot cowboy who takes him on;
- Coq Au Vin (by Jon Robin Baitz / Directed by Marybeth Gorman Craig), a darkly satiric story of two actors trying to find purpose in the only gig they can get – playing chickens at a county fair;
- Memory Sounds (by J.J. Steinfeld / Directed by David Britt), a powerful story of connection between two generations represented by a college student and an elderly Holocaust survivor; and,
- Three Guys and a Brenda (by Adam Bock / Directed by Erica Tobolski), a comedy about three tough guys and the female co-worker who renders them speechless.
“You get to see a range of stories and a range of acting,” says Britt, a senior instructor and supervisor for the Lab Theatre, on the fun of seeing multiple shows in one evening. “Just when you get settled into one play, it’s over and you move on to another. You walk out with five different stories in your heart and mind.”
What’s more significant to Britt, however, is the opportunity the festival gives to its cast.
“You’ll leave that night talking about several actors. With a full-length play, you might have two or three actors who are standouts; but, in this case, you’ll see fifteen students walk on stage and perform, and everyone has their moment. That’s important to me.”
Included among the five plays is Gershwin’s Last Ride by USC alum Ryan Stevens, who received a BA in English in 2015 and an MA in Theatre in 2017 from the university. Stevens’ full-length originals Player King (2015) and Outlaw Song (2017) were both produced at the Lab Theatre while a USC student. Player King, a Shakespearean farce written partly in iambic pentameter, made Stevens a published playwright when it was picked up by Stagescripts, LTD. In 2017. They went on to receive an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA in 2020.
An online playwriting workshop taught by Stevens led director Patrick Michael Kelly to consider Gershwin’s Last Ride for the 10 Minute Play Festival.
“I'd seen a production of Ryan's play Outlaw Song in the Lab Theatre back in 2017 and was impressed with the style and flair of the writing,” says Kelly, an acting instructor at USC. “It was an incredibly engaging and fun play, and I was eager to read more of their work. [In 2020] Ryan was advertising for their online playwriting workshop, and I grabbed a spot. It was a wonderful workshop that resulted in me writing my second full-length play.”
When asked to direct for the festival, Kelly says he immediately began exploring Stevens’ other work. “Gershwin's Last Ride was my favorite short piece because it has a similar energy to Outlaw Song and because it expertly delves into issues of gender, sexuality, ambition, and empathy underneath the bold, brassy theme of professional bull riding.”
An all-undergraduate cast and design team are bringing the festival to the stage. Performers include David Alexander, Ella Becze, John Boulay, Reese Elwood, Sunni Greene, Koby Hall, Tyasia Knight, Andie Lowe, Rowland Marshall, Kyleigh McComish, Kenna Nelson, Rayne Norris, Jennifer Lucas O’Briant, Parker Walsh, and Nakoa Zurlo. Design for the shows is by Ella Tocci (Costume, Hair/Makeup), Koby Hall and Ricky Russo (Lighting) and Madeline Lewis (Sound). Logan Brodfuehrer is stage managing the production.
“On our first night of rehearsal, we did a read-through of all the plays together,” says Britt. “The students were just buzzing and were so supportive and excited for each other that it was a blessing to be in the room. It’s like we’re all on the same team and everybody is just cheering each other on.”
For more information on the 10 Minute Play Festival or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at email@example.com.