Sheri Hall, Ryan Watson, & Lee Stein in The Barbarian Philosophers. Photo: The Bard’s Town
2019 Ten-Tucky Festival of Ten-Minute Plays
Various writers & directors
Festival producers: Sabrina Spalding & Rachel Allen
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved
So many years, so many Ten-Tucky Festivals, but I must count this year’s line-up of shorts of consistent quality and intention. It was a fun night of theatre filled with self-aware references to and sly commentary on popular culture.
The Barbarian Philosophers, by Shauvon McGill (director: Darren McGee) hilariously imagines another day at the office for a trio of Iron Age primitives who begin to question the origin of their existence. Ryan Watson and Lee Stein are confident cousins of Conan, while Sherri Hall swings an absurdly oversize stone hammer with insouciance.
Jacob Cooper updates Goldilocks in his Big Gay Bear Board Game Night (director: Sabrina Spalding) with the perfect casting of Rachel Allen’s Shirley Temple curls and countenance as an interloper to the weekly game night for Jake Beamer, Corey Music, & Darren McGee. It was a funny and well-played examination of a sociopath in conflict with a hermetic social clique.
Geese, by Peter J. Stavros (director: Katye Heim) was a lesser piece in comparison, but filled with clever language illuminating how stress can lead to obsession, or, when your husband comes home and can’t stop talking about geese, he may be in some trouble. Corey Music’s speedy and precise comic delivery is essential here
Zoë Peterson is curious about cult-like devotion to zones of popular culture in Investigation #43 (director: Rachel Allen), from Twilight to Waffle House, and if it is not fully satisfying, it still reads like a vivid page from an artist’s sketchbook and served as a good opener for the program.
Writers Block, by Hannah Rodgers (director: Marcy Zeigler), was the most serious piece of the night, a “J’ accuse” exercise in the meta-theatrical that demands male artists own up to the perpetuation of misogyny in American culture. The able cast occupied archetypes but Ross Bowman was haunting as the Creator.
Similar ideas were present in a broadly comic tone in The Legend Of Link, by Corey Music (director: Robert Thompson), which gives the damsel in distress in a fantasy scenario the empowerment to question the hero’s sense of entitlement after she is rescued. Meghan Logue intelligently delivers the lesson as Princess Zelda, even if Lee Stein’s ridiculously attired arrogant male peacock Link earns the laughs and Ryan Watson’s Ganondorf subversively steals the show as an unexpectedly considerate heavy.
The Shadow Barista, by Clare Hagan (director: Ryan Watson), gives Jake Beamer the opportunity to display his gift for explosive comedic rage as the alter ego for a patient barista (a solid if underused Nicole Doty Heumann). The truth of the simple and almost brutal premise will resonate with anyone who has done time in any customer service position, but particularly food service.
On the acting side of things, I felt this year’s MVP was Ryan Watson, although all of the ensembles worked with confidence. My favorite play reunites a former team known for their creativity and comedic chops. One Last Thing Before We Go was written by Nick Potter and directed by Corey Music. It was a heady take on death and the afterlife that was wickedly clever in how it played on our expectations. Mr. Potter was excellent as the forlorn ghost, Simon, who watches a series of recently departed move on from limbo while he remains haplessly stuck.
Overall the 2019 Ten-Tucky roster was funny and smart, well-observed satire with underlying humanity that prevents the critiques from becoming overly strident. While there is enough professionalism on display to satisfy, there is also a loose and funky atmosphere that is conjured up by festival producers/emcees Sabrina Spalding and Rachel Allen. Their banter borders on being too casual at times, and their between plays routine may be prompted as much by the need to repeatedly reset the stage, but it works to make the show more relaxed and enjoyable. It as a good time.
Featuring Ellie Archer, Rachel Allen, Jake Beamer, Ross Bowman, Shelby Fogarty, Sherri Hall, Meghan Logue Holland, Nicole Doty Heumann, Lance Humbert, Darren McGee, Corey Music, Nick Potter, Shelby Simpson, Sabrina Spalding, Lee Stein, Kimby Taylor-Peterson, & Ryan Watson
2019 Ten-Tucky Festival of Ten-Minute Plays
September 12-15, 18-21 @ 7:30 PM
TICKETS: $18 in advance
$10 in advance for our COMMUNITY NIGHT Sept 18
$20 cash at the door / $22 credit at the door
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.