Big Bubbly Creative Soup

The NW10 Festival offers up a heady stew of short plays

The seventh-annual NW10 Festival returns this week with a handful of 10-minute plays premiering at Oregon Contemporary Theatre.

“There’s a big difference between a skit and a 10-minute play,” insists festival co-founder Paul Calindrino. “A skit is like a one-line joke, whereas a 10-minute play has the potential to be a fully self-contained dramatic unit with character development, emotional impact and narrative force.”

This year’s NW10 features a variety of genres, from “broad comedy, romantic comedy, tragedy, absurdism and experimental,” Calandrino says.

Connie Bennett, festival co-founder and NW10 executive producer, says the festival has evolved over time. “It’s gone from the first year with three performances of an evening of seven plays,” Bennett explains, “to the current adjudicated competitive process which selects the eight plays to be premiered from the approximately 90 submitted from all over Oregon and Washington.”

With the support of OCT artistic director Craig Willis and co-founder Richard Leinaweaver, the festival now features an audience talkback with the playwrights, a playwriting workshop and a concert reading (like a staged reading, but more elaborate) of additional works.

Curating this year’s festival is Canadian playwright Paddy Gillard-Bentley, who has selected plays by John Yunker, Ricky Zipp, Isabelle Rogers, Greg Foote, Dale Light, Barbara Pope, Suzanne Bailie and Tim O’Donnell.

Beyond the opportunity to get their works on the boards, artists have benefitted from the NW10 because it gives them a venue for collaboration and increased exposure.

“Artists who’d wanted to work together for years but rarely got a chance were thrown together in this big bubbly creative soup,” Calandrino says.

And have audiences responded?

“People who’d never seen live theatre, and were possibly daunted by the prospect of sitting through two plus hours of a single play they weren’t sure they’d like, were delighted to watch a bunch of short plays,” Calandrino says. “If one play didn’t suit their taste, they just had to wait 10 minutes for the next one.”

NW10 runs 7:30 pm Thursday through Saturday, March 19-21 and 26-28, with a 2 pm matinee on Sunday, March 22 (with talkback to follow); tickets are $16. The NW10 Playwriting Workshop takes place 9 am to noon Saturday, March 21; $10-$25. A free concert reading of four scripts from the 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project takes place 2 pm March 28. All events are at Oregon Contemporary Theatre. For tickets or to register, call 465-1506 or visit