Ten years ago, Massachusetts resident Christopher Lockheardt was sitting in his hometown laundromat when he saw a notice for a local theater group looking for 10-minute plays.
Lockheardt, a science journalist, seized the moment to begin what became his playwriting career.
SEE THE PLAYS
Time: 8 p.m., July 11 through 13 and July 17 through 20; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., July 24, 25 and 27
Location: The Carrboro ArtsCenter
More info: www.artscenterlive.org/
“It turns out that the 10-minute play format is something that suited my writing strengths,” he said. “I just have a knack for it.”
Now, Lockheardt’s “Lost in Thought” is one of 10 plays — each 10 minutes long — to hit the stage at the the Carrboro ArtsCenter’s 10 By 10 in the Triangle during the next three weekends.
Lockheardt said he conceived the idea for “Lost in Thought” while washing dishes, just as the main character in his script does.
“It’s about a man’s struggle to control his thoughts and direct them where he wants them to go rather than where they’re eager to take him,” he said.
Jeri Lynn Schulke, artistic director at the ArtsCenter, said the 10 plays were selected from more than 750 submissions.
Schulke said this will be the 13th year the ArtsCenter is presenting 10 By 10. The 10-minute plays will be shown from July 11 through 13, July 17 through 20 and July 24, 25 and 27.
It takes a several-step process, a set of guidelines and group of readers who work with Schulke to peruse the plethora of scripts and hone in on the finalists.
“All of (the readers) have been either a director, an actor or a designer with 10 By 10,” she said.
This process serves as even more of testament to a writer’s talent when a particular playwright’s works, such as those of Lockheardt, have been selected multiple times. But the process also ensures the work of newcomers can be considered alongside that of playwriting veterans.
Floridian thespian Elaine Smith only recently altered her work to include writing and the second play she’s ever written will be on stage at 10 By 10.
“I tend to start with dialogue, and then it evolves into something more,” Smith said. “I’m not a writer who, from the beginning, knows what it is that I want to write.”
Her play is written with a complete lack of casting restraints — any actor can play any role. This type of script is especially fitting for a festival like 10 By 10, where according to Schulke, the actors are hired before the plays are decided upon.
This year, one of Schulke’s favorites, “Going Viral,” features a 16-year-old boy as a main character whose parents just gave him access to his own Facebook account they had been running for him throughout his entire life.
“It turned out that he had been an Internet star and they had posted everything about him online ever since he was a baby,” Schulke said. “They had posted videos without him knowing, and he’s totally mortified and upset.”
Tony Lea, who has directed 10 By 10 plays for three years, is directing “Going Viral.”
“It’s nice to direct every once in a while without some of the bigger responsibilities,” he said. “You don’t have two hours to get people excited and interested and invested. There’s usually some kind of hook or unique thing about a particular play, so you have to figure out how to make that work.”
Jordan Rawlins, the Los Angeles-based playwright who wrote “Canyon,” which will also be on stage at 10 By 10, can attest to the importance of working with a professional director.
“One of my plays had a run in L.A. and it was a huge success, and it was better than I thought it could be but another theater company took it on and it was terrible,” he said.
Rawlins said his own process of inspiration tends to vary. He does a lot of charity work where he is around children and said he draws much of his inspiration from these moments.
“A kid might say something like ‘I want to write a book about a sandwich,’” he said.
“The weirder, the better. It’s an inspiration for me seeing that you can actually write a decent story about a sandwich.”
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