Future Tenant is currently offering a veritable smorgasbord of theatrical tidbits with its 11th annual festival of ten-minute plays, “Future Ten 11.” Five emerging directors – Alex Frantz, Joe Hill, Kevin Karol, Justin Sines, and Michael Young – have directed the work of ten emerging playwrights, utilizing a cast of eighteen emerging performers. And while not every one of the short plays presented is fully realized, the “emergingness” on display is promising.
There’s impressive risk-taking and experimentation in many of the pieces chosen for this festival. Two of the short plays – “Proposition 324” by Tina L. Bubonovich and “The Weird Sisters” by Adam Esquenazi Douglas – play cheekily with mashup, colliding together zombies and civil rights, in the first case, and Macbeth and Wicked, in the second. Jo Morello pulls off a mashup of a different sort in “Talkback,” which imagines Shakespeare at a modern day audience talkback, with characters speaking in an iambic pentameter that alternates between High Elizabethan and classic Dr. Seuss. Both “First Rites,” by Joanna Piucci, and “The Writer,” by Chip Bolcik, take on existential questions, albeit in very different ways – the former imagines the journey to existence as one dogged by uncertainty and chance, whereas the latter takes a more metatheatrical view of what it is to exist, in a vein reminiscent of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.
The comic highlights of the festival include Drew Davis’s “Greener Grass,” an irreverent, “Wild West” version of the “tables-turned” murder plot; “Panacea,” by Jack J. Berry, which takes a sly poke at the commercialization of anxiety and its remedies; “If We Knew Then,” by Matt Stabile, in which a couple tests their compatibility via a computerized questionnaire, with predictable (and then unpredictable) results; and “Savage Lands,” by Timothy Ruppert, which wryly reveals the timelessness of sibling rivalry. The evening also showcases several very fine comic performances, in particular Leon Schwendener and Siddiq Saunderson as office co-workers dealing with bathroom shyness in Shane Murphy’s “Pee Buddies,” and Moira Quigley, Sarah Pidgeon, and Katie Kerr as the perky TV spokespeople in “Panacea.”
Festival organizers have invited audience members to vote for a play to receive the designation “best in show,” which will be announced at the Nov. 2 closing performance. It’s not for me to second guess what the collective will choose, but I’ll be sure to post the winner here when I find out.