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Six plays in 60 minutes

They've been called the haiku of the American stage. They have their own festivals, fans and anthologies. They are the tight, little, dramatic lightning strokes known as 10-minute, or "short" plays.

Oregon Stage Works' Playwrights Unit will present an evening of readings of original short plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings April 10 and 11, on the OSW stage, 191 A St., in Ashland's A Street Market Place.

"It's kind of an abridged form," says OSW Artistic Director Peter Alzado. "It's like the 'Cliff's Notes' of plays."

The Playwright's Unit at OSW is a group of six to eight writers who meet once a month to read each other's new work and critique it. Six new plays by seven playwrights will be presented, ranging in length from 3-16 minutes.

Whether it's a matter of catching a wave, playing to the age of the attention deficit or simply challenging themselves in new ways, more dramatists are creating playlets in which character, conflict, plot and themes are all packed into a tight 600 seconds on the stage.

"One of the exciting things is that the writers are taking this on themselves," Alzado says. "They are directing each other's work, and they've taken the lead on producing. They're not waiting for somebody else to say, 'We'll do it' I'm excited about it."

In the comedy "The Real Story," by Ashland playwright Dori Appel, there is a battle of wits for the elusive truth.

"It's about a brother and sister," says Appel, who also directs. "Older brother lives in Boston in the trendy South End, and his sister from Roseburg shows up."

The brother attributes an injury to a carjacking, events spiral from there, and a surprise ensues.

Appel will also direct Molly Tinsley's "Fourplay," in which two overnight dates make the most of the morning after.

"Two people misunderstand what's happened when they meet in a kitchen," Appel says. "Neither the man nor the woman who meet understand there's an ex-spouse on the scene. The exes are sharing the space."

Other plays include "Paradox," by Tempo Editor Richard Moeschl, which is about Lefty, who is missing something, and Dexter, who has a plan; "Going Out," by Merilyn Wakefield, the story of an aquarium and an open door tempting Clarence to an illicit excursion; Barbara C. Rosen's "History," in which baby clothes reveal a secret Kate never knew about her ex; and "High Stakes," by Cathy Noah and Mark Freeman, in which you can bet four bits or four grand — but you ain't nothing if you don't win. Noah is city editor for the Mail Tribune and Freeman is the paper's outdoors writer.

Tickets cost $10 at the door. Call 482-2334.