A Dark Comedy Triumphs at the 10-Minute Play Festival

by Heshina Pillay, 30/11/2015

Seoul Players Theatre Company ran it’s fifth annual 10 Minute Play Festival in November 2015 and if you missed it, you really did miss out!  Narrowing down 200 submissions to 16 playwrights, featuring some of Korea’s most talented performers and directors, expat theatre’s cream of the crop were in full performance force.  With subtitles in Korean, the festival invited everyone to enjoy the performances, which featured two productions from the Daejon based theatre company, U&i Productions.

This year’s 10 Minute Play festival took on an unconventional and quirkier tone that encouraged more creative and experimental usage of lighting and sound effects on stage.  Complimenting the experimental and unconventional atmosphere was a talented ensemble of actors and actresses thirsty to entertain their audience, which they most certainly did!

I had the privilege of co-hosting the festival with Seoul stand-up comic, Rob Fioretta. We both agreed that it must have been a tough decision for the panel of judges: Lauren Ash-Morgan: Artistic Director of Seoul Shakespeare Company, Michael Downey: Director of “New Year’s Eve,” the 2014 10MPF First Place Winner; Board Member of Seoul Shakespeare Company, Paul Kerry, Chief Copy Editor at The Korea Herald, Marc Raymond, Professor of Film Studies at Kwangwoon University and Kim Hyun Sook, Director of K-Movie Love.

Michael Prince’s Capstone Performance written by Jamie Horan, Jo Krukowski and directed by Jamie Horan took third place. The play centers around an associate degree student performing his capstone performance, which saw theatre acting in a refreshing comic light. The context of Southern living combined with slapstick techniques and the comic use of the southern American accent, kept the audience entertained and laughing.

I Was Fine Until You Came Into the Room, written by Rich Orloff and directed by Heather Castille came in second place. A heartwarming play, based on a situation most people can relate to; the first impressions one has with people who end up being precious to their lives. What gave this play an edge was the presence of a subconscious dialogue the characters had indirectly to one another, this invited the audience into a familiar situation and a journey with the characters through time.

The Maltese Walter written by John Minigan and directed by Raymond Salcedo took first place.  This dark comedy had an excellent balance of lighting and sound effects to match the underlying tone of film noir. It’s plot focused on a mellow yet timid accountant, Walter.  He pays a visit to his therapist, Dr. Eddy, to seek counsel on his secret identity of being: noir-Man, capable of turning any situation into film noir. Vera, Walter’s feisty fiancée refuses to marry him unless he gives up his super power, but in true film noir style our protagonist gets drawn into a destiny he can’t escape.

Actor, Leo Rodarte tells us how it all came together: “When we first started working on the play, we watched ‘The Maltese Falcon’ together, from which we took many references, as did the play-writer before. Learning more about this noir universe was fundamental to create that atmosphere on stage. I feel that the public noticed it and enjoyed it.”

Actor, Jamie Horan sheds more light on winning director Raymond Salcedo: ”I’ve worked with Ray Salcedo twice before (in last year’s 10-minute play Odd Man Out, and in this year’s Titus Andronicus), and I love his attention to detail. He lets me play to find my character, which is the most perfect thing a director can do. In addition to the character, I also got gifted with Sara Rickwa and Leo Rodarte, my co-actors. They were just really fun to work with. And we won! I don’t think any of us expected it, but I think that’s a testament to how good Ray is, how organically the rehearsals and performances went, and how in-tune the audience was. I was thrilled, but Ray never bought me any drinks with the money we won.”

The Seoul Players 2015 10 Minute play Festival was not just a highlight for winning plays, but also for other actors involved. Christopher Zaczek, Fundraiser and events coordinator at Seoul Players gives us his take on The 10 Minute Play Festival and how it can benefit actors: “One of the nice things about this festival is that every year it draws a variety of new talent. And an actor gets the opportunity to work with actors, directors and designers he or she probably hadn’t acted with before. It’s  wonderful  to experience not only a wide range of skills but also to try your hand at roles and play styles you may never have experienced before.”

About the author: Heshina is from South Africa. She has an honors degree in Drama and Performance as well as Media Studies. She has previously worked as an actress and model. Heshina currently lives in Seoul where she blogs and vlogs about all things arty farty, picturesque places to visit and fabulous food to try. Check out her blog

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