MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — If you have 10 minutes, MTSU Theatre has a play — or two, or five, or six — for you to Zoom into Thursday-Sunday, March 25-28, when students present a half-dozen shows created by emerging playwrights affiliated with the Nashville Repertory Theatre.
"MTSU Theatre 6x10: 10-Minute Play Festival" will be broadcast live, and free, from the Anderson Studio Theatre inside the Boutwell Dramatic Arts Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Central March 25-27 and 2 p.m. Central March 28 on the theatre program’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/mtsutheatre.
The plays and their MTSU student directors include:
• "Your Feets Too Big" by Jonathan Alexandratos, directed by Gavin Strawnato, a senior theatre major from Johnson City, Tennessee.
• "As You Dyke It" by Riti Sachdeva, directed by Layla Bahmanziari, a senior theatre major from Murfreesboro.
• "How to Be a Widow" by Tori Keenan-Zelt, directed by Liv Hendrix, a senior theatre major from Franklin, Tennessee.
• Sachdeva’s "Between," directed by Sean McDevitt, a sophomore theatre major from Nolensville, Tennessee.
• "No Ghosts" by Nate Eppler, directed by Zoe Zent, another Murfreesboro senior theatre major.
• "Human Resources" by R. Eric Thomas, directed by Maggie Shivers, a senior from Kingston Springs, Tennessee, with a double major in theatre and art.
Each playwright has participated in Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Project, which gives emerging writers from across the country a “home away from home” residency for a season, including funds for monthly visits to Nashville and networking and other support and resources to develop a new play.
Nashville Rep then presents the plays each year at the Ingram New Works Festival. More information about the program is available at https://nashvillerep.org/ingramnewworks.
This production marks MTSU Theatre’s first 10-minute play festival in collaboration with the Ingram New Works Program, according to Department of Theatre and Dance directing professor Lauren Shouse, who’s serving as faculty mentor for the festival’s student directors. She was associate artistic director for Chicago's Northlight Theatre before joining MTSU's faculty and has worked extensively with Nashville Rep.
“Our students have had the unique opportunity to participate in a workshop with Nashville Rep's playwright-in-residence, Nate Eppler, and then have individual meetings with each of the professional playwrights,” Shouse explains.
"This festival has been an exciting opportunity for our students to collaborate with some really talented artists on fresh, newer work that will have you laughing and feeling all the feels. I’m proud of our students for safely creating a meaningful, innovative and fun theatre festival in the pandemic, and I hope our professional partnerships with Nashville Repertory Theatre will continue for years to come."
MTSU's Department of Theatre and Dance got back onstage last fall and began presenting performances online after the pandemic cut students’ spring 2020 production season short.
The “10-Minute Play Festival” student cast members submitted video auditions for their roles and have been rehearsing, mostly virtually, since Feb. 11. When they work together in person, the cast and crew have continued to follow the department’s strict backstage and onstage guidelines for masking, distancing, sanitation and testing.
The rules are adapted from multiple professional sources, including Actors Equity, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This festival is what I feel I and my fellow students needed right now," says festival director Lauren Hawkins, a senior theatre major from Ashland City, Tennessee.
"A lot of the time we feel the need to use our art to make a big statement, or to shine a light on the world that we live in. While these pieces do this in their own ways, I think more than anything they reminded us that we can use our art to have fun and to laugh during difficult times.
“This festival has allowed us to have fun with our classmates while also learning heaps about the collaborative process. It’s my hope that we can share the festival with audiences and give them something to relate to, something to enjoy and, at the very least, some laughs.”
Audiences were able to enjoy MTSU’s fall 2020 theatre season online thanks to help from students in Department of Media Arts professor Bob Gordon’s advanced multi-camera TV production course in the College of Media and Entertainment.
The theatre department is handling productions itself this spring, producing its video content and live streams with help from May 2020 alumnus Matthew Phillips, a dual video and film production and theatre graduate who's now working toward his MBA degree in the Jones College of Business with a music business concentration. ?
This spring's final MTSU Theatre production is the musical "Godspell" April 8-11, performed live online from Tucker Theatre with tentative plans for a limited in-person audience.
For more details on the shows, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/theatreanddance/currentseason.php.