Review: Festival of Ten a tapas of theater

10:03 AM, Mar 04, 2013

Defrost, starring Jay O'Leary, is one of the plays in The College at Brockport's Festival of Ten. (Photo provided by The College at Brockport)/


Written By Caurie Putnam

If you go

What: Festival of Ten, a program of 10 10-minute plays.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Where: The College at BrockportÂ’s Tower Fine Arts Center, 180 Holley St.
Cost: $15 ($10 for seniors, $8 for students).
For information: brockport.edu/theatre or (585) 395-2787.

Where can you find Othello, a vampire, a Civil War solider and a runaway groom all sharing the stage? At the College at Brockport’s Festival of Ten.

Begun in 1997 by the college’s Department of Theatre and Music Studies, the festival, held every other year, offers the audience 10 10-minute plays. This year, the 10 featured plays were carefully culled from 400 submissions from around the world and performed by about 30 undergraduate students.

Entering the theatre at the Tower Fine Arts Center for my first Festival of Ten experience, I expected a theater buffet — a little of this, a little of that, but nothing too filling. What I quickly realized was this show is no smorgasbord, but a tapas — a titillating offering of sophisticated, diverse and fulfilling theater.

The beauty of the Festival of Ten is that unlike attending a conventional play where you typically have some idea of what the show will be about, here you have no idea what awaits you onstage. And, if you don’t like what happens to be on stage, you only need to watch for 10 minutes until you are greeted by something new and potentially more appealing.

I didn’t experience any periods of disinterest. I found each of the 10 plays to be superbly written and performed — many of them leaving me hungry for more when their 10 minutes were up.

Before the Festival of Ten began, the audience was given a ballot to vote for their favorite three plays at the conclusion. Knowing I would have to vote, I jotted down a number ranking and adjective for each of the 10 shows on my playbill between each one.

At the program’s conclusion I realized that I had two 10s, several nines and nothing less than a seven. Adjectives included “witty,” “sweet,” “proactive,” “intriguing,” “sexy” and “powerful.”

One of my 10s, The Wilderness by James McLindon, was a multi-sensory play about a Yankee solider (Peter Raimondo) and a Confederate (Kiefer Schenk) who find themselves severely injured next to each other near the Battlefield of the Wilderness in 1864. Both Raimondo and Schenk gave powerful performances and gusto to this deep and surprising script.

After the performance, I was amazed to learn Raimondo was high-school age. He attends Brockport High School and The College at Brockport as part of the schools’ cooperative 3-1-3 Program, where students can begin college study during their senior year.

My other 10 of the evening was for georgie — with three cast members set in an Upper West Side New York City apartment during current times. Written by Charlotte Ortiz Colavin, georgie is a tornado of teenage and parental emotions that left me both captivated and content.

Kayla Vary, a junior at The College at Brockport, gave a tiny tour de force performance as the teenage Georgie that was book-ended nicely by senior Kat Circelli and sophomore Skylar Shaw as her parents.

The final play to earn my check on the ballot was the absurd and delightful Defrost by Tony Foster. Jay O’Leary, a sophomore, and Matthew Deluca, a junior, were hilarious playing a mismatched couple united by their passion for the consumption and consummation (yes, consummation) of frozen, French cuisine. And although only on stage for a few minutes, the third cast member of Defrost, sophomore Cody Kaminska (Brady) provided a perfect garnish.