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Nine plays. 10-minutes each. One intermission –

during which I noticed no one leaving.

by K K Mason 

Theater in English is alive and thriving in Luxembourg, and there’s an audience that wants to support it. November 11-14 saw the first-ever festival in the Grand-Duchy of 10-minute plays written, staged and performed in English by (mostly) resident writers and thespians. Of 20 entries, nine plays were chosen and eight of these written by members of Luxembourg’s Creative Writing Club. Plays tackled themes from all aspects of contemporary life and death. New World Theatre Club supplied directors, painted sets, found props and did make-up. 

As noted in 352 the week of November 9, actors and directors were a mix of new and experienced, but it was difficult for me to distinguish plays directed by experienced as opposed to first-time directors. The action in each play moved well, staging was effective, and each play demanded a different set of sensibilities. I sat at the end of about the middle row, in an audience of about 300 at the Bonnevoie Cultural Centre, Saturday 14 November. Closing night. Occasionally, it was difficult to hear an actor, but it wasn’t because of poor enunciation. 

With nine plays, the time required to change sets could have added up quickly. And drag. This was not the case because the setting for one play was struck and rearranged for the next by actors out-of-play, dancing “stage-hands” moving scenery and props to lively music. Clever choreography. Time between sets became something to notice without being a distraction. Each play warranted thought. The complexity in 10-minute plays didn’t always leave enough time for audience reaction. 

While I didn’t time the plays, they all “felt” about the same length, and the surprise to me was how much ground could be covered/suggested/treated in 10 minutes. Last week’s 352 gave a summary description of each play. What intrigued me in being a member of the audience and experiencing the nine plays in quick succession was the way the nine created a story arc of their own. 

What better play to begin the series, but “Preface” about two couples sitting in an audience waiting for the play to begin? A topic of conversation in “Preface” dealt with food, which became a link to the next play, “Chelsea’s Closet”, where three women sat at a dining table. And so on. Nothing heavy-handed or forced about the sequencing. The light touch moving from play to play and the funky music was enough change to “clear the palate” for the next course. Polling members of the audience afterward would have given rise to diverging opinions on how the nine plays worked together. No doubt. 

But what criteria to use in responding to these 10-minute plays? It was live theater at its best: topical subjects, adventurous acting, experimental form and an engaged audience, as evidenced by spontaneous reactions during and applause at the end. I came to watch performances, not critique them. And I came with no preconceived notion about what I’d be seeing. Plays I’d like to see again are “Collateral Damage”, for the characters; “Medium Rare” for the humor; “Eden Play” for its use of Genesis. The actresses in “Goodbye Avis” gave life to the characters. And the 10-minute Play Festival gave life to life in Luxembourg. 

Visit the groups’ Web sites to learn about future activities of the Creative Writing Forum (CWC) and future work by the New World Theatre Club

Karen K Mason

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New World Theatre Club Luxembourg