For the 11th year running, the Carrboro ArtsCenter is presenting one of its most remarkable undertakings, the 10 By 10 in the Triangle action-packed extravaganza of ten recent plays, each ten minutes long, brought to life by ten directors and ten actors (who also move the furniture). Attending this ridiculously refreshing event is a lot like opening your throat and pouring down a cold Coca-Cola—a great thing to do in July.
Playwrights from around the country, and now the world, submit works to the competition, which is juried by committee. Once the list is semi-finalized, Jeri Lynn Schulke, artistic director of the ArtsCenter Stage, chooses the ten directors, and among them, they reduce the list to ten plays. Schulke then assembles a cast of ten versatile actors who can create all the parts in all ten plays—and the creative madness begins, with the help of some of the Triangle theater’s dedicated
backstage production artists. Each director gets five rehearsals, then there’s the tech rehearsal and one complete run-through before opening night on the ArtsCenter’s tiny stage. There are no sets, and props are minimal. Costumes, however, can get more elaborate.
For instance, the food items in It’s What’s for Dinner, by Jonathan Graham, which opens the evening. Deftly directed by Sylvia Mallory, the play features kale, brie, beef, and leftover macaroni and cheese, enacted by Geraud Staton, Mary Rowland, Page Purgar and Fred Corlett. This hilarious send-up of the food foibles of well-to-do and politically correct locavores hits the bullseye around here. And you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen Geraud Staton as a bunch of kale—Tuscan black kale, one presumes.
Part of the fun of 10 By 10 is seeing the actors appear in such different roles in quick succession. Staton is well-paired with another large man, David Berberian, in the sharply drawn After You, by Libba Beaucham, directed by Jerry Sipp. Alone, either one of these actors can make the room look small; together, in three-piece suits, watch chains and hats, they make the room disappear.
Berberian is particularly effective, along with Leanne Heintz, in Jonathan Yukich’s A Short History of Weather. As directed by Michael O’Foghludha, Weather starts off fast and funny, but settles gently into a slow and tender conclusion. Heintz (recently seen at Deep Dish in Henceforward…) packs a lot of nuance into the ten minutes of this surprisingly endearing play.
Each of the plays is worthy of comment, but it would be so much more efficient to see them for yourself. Be sure to stay until the end. You don’t want to miss a future classic like Matt Fotis’ Oedipus: The Prequel. And don’t be late—you might not be able to get a ticket.