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Theatre Oxford set for annual 10-minute Play Festival

Eight plays, eight directors and 40-plus characters.

That is the recipe that makes up Theatre Oxford’s annual 10-minute Play Festival, which will take place Sept. 12 through 15 at The Powerhouse.

The event consists of workshops as well as a festival, featuring plays no longer than 10 minutes. This year’s festival showcases plays from national submissions to Theatre Oxford’s annual writing contest.

People sent in scripts and then two anonymous readings took place in April and May. From those readings, there were three winners selected. There were over 260 submissions for this year’s contest.

Atlanta’s Emily McLain was this year’s grand prize winner with her script “Secret Family Recipes,” which is a fast-talking comedy in which a seance works all too well. McLain will do a Q&A session on the Saturday of the festival following that night’s performances.

Second place went to Patrice Hamilton’s “The Interview,” where a journalist covers a new, startling solution to poverty and inequity. Oxford native Kate Leslie took third place with her script “Ashes to Dust.” The play focuses around a family who deals with the grief that comes after losing a relative.

Once the plays are selected for the festival, the directors (who come from the community and students from the University of Mississippi) begin to work on their selected piece.

“We choose the directors and then (the plays are) cast,” said Sidney Sirdashney of Theatre Oxford. “We have a big audition for anyone who wants to be in the cast and then from there we chose 40-plus actors to be in those eight plays.”

Two Oxford authors will have their works performed during the festival. Jack Pendarvis’ “The Full Moby Dick Experience” and William Boyle’s “Grief Has Waltzed on My Heart Tonight” were selected as two of the eight plays.

Pendarvis’ play condenses all 135 chapters of the book “Moby Dick” into a 10-minute play and includes whale facts. Boyle’s script focuses on a divorced man who is arguing with his ex-wife over an intruder in their relationship.

Theatre Oxford also recently received a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission totaling $3,300 that will go toward their season of plays, the 10-minute Play Festival and their workshops.

Tickets for the festival cost $15 each and can be purchased at oxfordarts.com.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.