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SOU students Jenn Brown, Sophie Green and Adrian de Forest

If you liked the Fourth of July fireworks, you’ll love this year’s 10-Minute Play Festival, held July 8 through 10 (Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., and Monday at 8 p.m.), at Southern Oregon University’s Stevenson Union Arena.

— — 10-minute — Play — Festival —

— — — IF YOU GO

— WHAT: Ashland 10-Minute Play Festival — — — WHERE: SOU Stevenson Union Arena — — — WHEN: Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. — — — HOW MUCH: $5 students, $10 general

Presenting eight complete plays for one entrance fee ($10 general, $5 students, available only at the door), this annual Ashland event is an opportunity to experience the magic of live theater.

Each of this year’s playwrights manages to tell a riveting story in the time span of one TV commercial break. The 10-Minute Play Festival is a production of the Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF) which will hold staged readings of four world-premier plays in October.

This year’s 10-Minute Play Festival is a partnership between ANPF and SOU’s Public Domain Players (PDP), a student club that presents play readings to raise money for a variety of charities.

“By featuring student actors,” observes PDP Artistic Director Keith Mosman, “the Festival shows off the energy they bring to everything they do. That spirit creates a thrilling environment for raw theater.”

Janet Rodkey, president of ANPF, agrees: “Working with SOU theater students, who are responsible for all aspects of the festival, cements our bonds with this terrific part of the Ashland community. It also allows our audiences to see the world through the lens of some promising young actors.”

The 10-Minute Play Festival was flooded with entries this year from all over the country. Narrowing the list down to the top eight was no easy task. The selection committee looked both for terrific dialogue and characters that could be fleshed out easily in a short rehearsal period.

This year’s plays will feature a wide variety of themes, both humorous and provocative, ranging from out of body experiences to the nature of modern art.

As always, the mysteries of love and romance provide wonderful fodder for the theatre. Carrie Louise Nutt’s “Chicken Lovers” explores what it takes to spark a most unlikely affair, whereas “The Housetaurant” by Dan Moyer presents a relationship on the brink, potentially saved by a piece of creative prose and an unusual eatery. “Shag,” by Jody Gehrman and David Wolf, features a man discovering that his estranged sister wasn’t so strange after all. A hilarious look at a triple date between a couple and their hand puppets is the subject of “Tongue Tied” by M. Thomas Cooper.

Serious topics are also brought to light in the 10-minute play format. Krist Knight’s “Barbed Wire Minute” takes a look at illegal immigration and a tense moment in a border town for a mother and daughter. Two men who are facing a death sentence in the Roman Empire make some remarkable discoveries in their final hours in “Paul and Eddie” by Ken Brisbois. “Out of Body” by Jonathan Emerson Kohler presents three wildly differing experiences of the same life-threatening surgery. “Found Object,” by Dennis Porter, both lampoons and celebrates modern art and its champions.

ANPF is a self-sustaining festival of readings of new plays from emerging and established playwrights. It features culturally and thematically varied works, and has achieved regional and national recognition through its education programs and a high degree of artistic excellence. A non-profit organization, ANPF relies on generous contributions from its members.

For information about joining or volunteering for ANPF, please see ashlandnewplays.org on the Web or call 482-4357.