In theater, timing is everything.
Playwrights must constantly think of different ways to make their point. Usually, as is the case with a typical, three-act play, an incident happens in the first act, more about the incident is revealed in the second act, and — normally — everything is resolved by the end of the third act.
Exposition, details, humor, love and everything else is crammed into those three acts, which typically run anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours.
Now try doing all of that in just 10 minutes.
That’s exactly what the student playwrights did at Bowie State University. The Black Box Theatre at the Fine and Performing Arts Center will play host to the inaugural Ten-Minute Play Festival on Thursday and Friday.
Plays written by the students were submitted with five chosen to be presented.
The festival is being presented by the Rise Theatre Company, which is part of the university theater guild. According to company president Charles Franklin, who is a student at the university, everything from the plays to the lights and sounds are being done by BSU students.
“It’s all-student everything,” Franklin said. “It’s very interesting to have this experience right now because I know we’ve never had this experience before.”
Franklin said between 50 and 60 plays were submitted for the festival in December right before Winter break. All of the submissions went to Bob Bartlett, who is an assistant theater professor at BSU and the advisor for the Rise Theatre Company. Each play was submitted without a name, making sure the judging would be fair.
“We sent [the plays in to Bartlett]. At that point, the theater company sat down and, over the course of a week, narrowed it down to the five,” Franklin said.
The five plays range in style from comedy to drama. For instance, the play Franklin is directing is called “Jell-O Pudding.”
“[The] play is really about this little girl who is having trouble coming to terms with her father being dead,” Franklin said. “The father appears throughout the play and keeps reminding them of the good times.”
Another play, “Hephaestus,” is an adaptation of the Greek god of fire and metalworking, according to Franklin.
“It’s about Hephaestus, who’s a young boy in a foster home,” Franklin said. “He’s very smart and, as he gets older, people start to understand he’s very intelligent and that intelligence could get him money.”
The third play, “Humility,” focuses on racism in our society.
“A granddaughter and a grandfather, who are African-American, go to a diner where there are Caucasian people cooking soul food,” Franklin said of the play. “The grandfather is very upset about that. He finds out [the granddaughter] has a Caucasian boyfriend, so he has to come to terms with the fact that the world is changing.”
“The Nurturer and the Artist” is a tale about reincarnation, according to Franklin.
“It’s a play about two souls that are in different bodies every time they pass away,” Franklin said. “But those two souls have a connection with each other and even though they are far, far away, they’re always connected.”
The last play, “Going on an Adventure,” is very much a children’s story but it’s also very beautiful, Franklin said.
“It’s about these kids who simply are trying to figure out what they want to play outside,” Franklin said. “They then go on this big adventure to find out what games they want to play and why they should play the game and why they shouldn’t play the game.”
Franklin said he hopes the festival brings about a sense of community for not only this year, but for years to come.
“The sense of coming together and creating something as a student body and not depending on the faculty at Bowie State to help us out,” Franklin said. “Just sitting in a room and knowing that we were all selected for a reason — to do theater.”