Theatre Oxford celebrates 25th Ten-Minute Play Festival

Published 1:54 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Theatre Oxford celebrates 25th anniversary with plays, workshops, a raffle and a reading of late playwright Jim McCauley’s work

From Theatre Oxford

A marriage counselor is unsure whether he’s counselor or adversary to a long-married couple who’ve come for advice. Elvis runs a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. A retiring Chicago gangster learns he’s to be replaced by an AI robot!

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These are just a few of the stories told in Theatre Oxford’s “Ten-Minute Play Festival” scheduled for Feb. 16-17 at the Powerhouse.

Celebrating the festival’s 25 anniversary, Theatre Oxford has dedicated this year’s event to the late Oxford playwright Jim McCauley, whose works highlighted festivals in the past. This year’s festival also includes workshops on writing and directing, a reading from McCauley’s plays, a raffle, plus a “Spirit Night” fundraiser at Newk’s Feb. 16.

“The contest was truly international this year, with entries from the Czech Republic, Canada, the UK, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Brussels and from coast to coast in the U.S.,” Festival Coordinator Jennifer Mizenko said. “It was truly an international 10-minute play contest. Out of 245 submissions, we managed to narrow it down to six wonderful plays.”

In addition to the six plays selected, the festival also features a commissioned play, “Limpia,” by Leonard Madrid, an award-winning New Mexico-based playwright.

“The performance will be a wonderful evening of laughter, tears, entertainment and beauty,” Mizenko said. 

The plays will be performed both Friday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. A reading of a Jim McCauley play will take place after the Saturday matinee performance at 4:30 p.m. A “Meet the Playwrights” reception and raffle drawing will be held after the Saturday evening performance.

Three workshops have been scheduled in connection with the festival. The first is “Expanding the Ten-Minute Play” by playwright/actor George Kehoe, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The other two are “The Art of Directing” by Oxford High School theater director John Davenport on Saturday, March 2, from 10-11 a.m., and “Collaborating with Directors” with playwright Kate Leslie on Saturday, March 2, from 11 to noon. 

All three workshops will be offered at the Powerhouse as well as by Zoom. The cost of the workshops will be $30 for one, $50 for two and $75 for all three.

A raffle for tickets to various performances in the area is also scheduled during the festival, with tickets costing $5 each or five for $20.  Also featured will be “Spirit Night” at Newk’s (across the street from the Powerhouse) on Friday, Feb. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. Every person who orders a meal there at that time will help raise funds for Theatre Oxford, which will receive 15 percent of each order placed.

The national Ten-Minute Play Contest was founded by local playwrights Neil White and L.W. Thomas in 1998 with the first grand-prize winner selected the following year. By the year 2000, the annual Ten-Minute Play Festival was underway and featured a grand-prize winner from the national contest and locally written plays.

The festival was originally created to select the winner of the L.W. Thomas Award for Theatre Oxford’s 10-Minute Play Competition. The top five finalists of the competition received a staged reading. The audience then voted on its favorite play at the readings.

The staged readings were later phased out, and all competition finalists were performed on stage. Three live adjudicators were invited to choose the winning play, and the audience voted for its favorite. The winners were announced at the end of the show, and the winners
were phoned live with the audience present.

More recently, the live adjudicators and audience favorite award were phased out. Now all plays are judged anonymously over multiple rounds with multiple reviewers who select finalists and three winners.

Theatre Oxford’s production of “The Ten-Minute Play Festival” is made possible in part by the support of the Mississippi Arts Commission and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

Tickets will be available at the door and seats can be reserved.

The Powerhouse is located at 413 South 14th St. in Oxford (on the corner of University Avenue). Parking is in back, near the water tower.

To learn more about Theatre Oxford, visit our website ( or follow us on social media (@theatreoxford).