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Comedy, satire and the absurd in 10-min. bits

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Ann Boleyn, fleeting dreams, Russian gangsters, and a touch of Monty Python will be on stage this weekend at the First Presbyterian Church.

It all comes under the banner of the Yellow Springs 10-Minute Play Festival, featuring the work of 14 local writers and directors, and a host of actors. Performances begin at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 and 27. Tickets are $5 at the door.

The News caught up with some of the writers and directors and asked them to pull back the curtain and offer up a sneak preview of their upcoming plays.

Virgil Hervey, a retired lawyer, freelance writer, and one of the organizers of the 10-Minute Play festival, said the play he wrote and directs, “Bench to Nowhere,” is about the fleeting dreams of old men.

“It’s the theme of all my plays,” he said.

“In particular, it’s about a fellow who hangs out on a bench in front of a market in a small town very similar to Yellow Springs. He’s a retired actor, and he’s got this bright idea that he can get a gig by going on to a tour bus that occasionally comes to town.” Unfortunately, the bus rarely makes stops in “Shallow Springs,” the setting for Hervey’s play.

“Protest,” written by Scott Geisel and directed by Kay Reimers, is about two outsiders who come to Yellow Springs and witness a street protest. Geisel describes the play as a comedy — a satire on how outsiders view the community.

Ali Thomas, who directs “Pull the Plug: An Agrarian Tale,” said her play is about the structure of life and focuses on the relationship between a scarecrow and a farmer.

“Charlie’s Ransom,” written by Jonathan Platt and directed by John Fleming, is a comedy about two low-level Russian gangsters who are trying to collect ransom for what they think is the corpse of Charlie Chaplin.

Fleming described the play as “an absurd 10 minutes that includes both puppets and the music of Claude Debussy.”

“Dead Families Equals Dead Phones,” written by Shirlisa Scott and directed by Lorrie Sparrow, is a perspective on our closest interpersonal connections.

“The play is about families — what constitutes a family and how different and interesting groups can become family to us in times of crisis,” said Sparrow, who initially felt the script was more suited for the screen than the stage.

“But as we got into it we found that this theme of family and how we define family is universal. So we’re playing with some new techniques to try and bring that out and highlight the writing and keep away from the cinematic feel. It’s a clear story with a clear vision.”

Sparrow also directs “Getting Ahead,” a comedy, which takes place near the Tower of London immediately after the beheading of Ann Boleyn, the second wife of the infamous British monarch Henry VIII.

“It’s a brilliant little script, and I was so excited when I read it,” said Sparrow, who described the play as a rare opportunity to act a little foolish on stage while having a great time.

“It’s very Monty Pythonesque, with cool dialogue and a few surprises,” she said.

Each evening’s performance will feature nine plays:

• “Bench to Nowhere,” written and directed by Virgil Hervey
• “Charlie’s Ransom,” written by Jonathan Platt and directed by John Fleming
• “Dead Families Equals Dead Phones,” written by Shirlisa Scott and directed by Lorrie Sparrow
• “Getting Ahead,” written by Teri Clark Linden and directed by Lorrie Sparrow
• “Protest,” written by Scott Geisel and directed by Kay Reimers
• “Pull the Plug: An Agrarian Tale,” written by Anthony Fife and directed by Ali Thomas
• “The Car Keys,” written and directed by Jerry Boswell
• “The Dagwood,” written and directed by Thor Sage
• “While We Can,” written and directed by Jerry Kenny


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