10-Minute Play Competition 2016
Adjudicator: Angie Farrow
Proudly sponsored by
1st Prize Between the Aisles by Robert Gilbert (Tauranga)
The prejudices and weaknesses of four people are exposed through a short piece of experimental theatre.
This was the most experimental of all the plays. It is a witty and imaginative work in which the actors are positioned in the auditorium and the audience is positioned on the stage. The characters are defined comically and provide amusing commentary on the pretensions of avant-garde theatre (in which they are, of course playing a part) and the follies of new technologies that take them away from the whole experience of watching the play. Each in his/her own way is absent while attempting to be present. A clever piece.
2nd Prize A Much Bigger Story by June Allen (Bayview, Auckland)
Street kids coping with life; they’re caught out one evening when found in a restaurant back yard. They’re surprised that others of their age group work. Is this a reasonable way to live?
This was a bold attempt at social commentary. Street kids who are scavenging for food in the urban rubbish bins, meet up with two people working in a restaurant. The exchange leads to a deeper understanding of the plight of the young protagonist, Lucy. Through the encounter, we come to believe that she may find the help she desperately needs. The dialogue is lively and sometimes compelling. There are some good parts for young performers here.
3rd Prize New Zealander by Timothy Malcolm (Hamilton)
An Afghan immigrant who worked for New Zealanders in Afghanistan has come to New Zealand with his family. He feels fine in this country but does not know if he will be accepted. On ANZAC Day he finds out.
One of the few plays that dealt with the world beyond New Zealand, this drama focuses on the protagonist Ahmed who fought alongside New Zealanders in Afghanistan. His hesitation in joining a military parade that celebrates the courage of New Zealand soldiers is evaporated when he meets a doctor who he knew during the fighting. He is reminded of his valour and his deservedness in being part of the parade. It is a play about tolerance and the follies of racial divisions. This is clearly written but could possibly be helped with a more subtle crafting of dialogue and monologue.
The Imitation Game by Colin Beardon (Waiheke Island, Auckland)
Will artificial intelligence result in a blurring of the distinction between humans and machines? Oliver buys an intelligent refrigerator and finds out.
This is a well-crafted comedy featuring a nerdy protagonist and his intelligent refrigerator. The comedy progresses well and leads to a convincing climax and a telling resolution. We can, after all, fall in love with our fridges! Why not?
The Life-Cycle of a Refrigerator by Nataliya Oryshchuk (Christchurch)
The team meeting has a busy agenda: gardening for the homeless and befriending strangers, methods of stress relief and even loneliness of refrigerators…
This social comedy provides a kind of ‘send up’ of the formal meeting culture where members spend time focusing on the minutiae of meeting procedure and content while missing the bigger picture of genuine human emotion. Andrew appears when the meeting is in full swing and the only way he can express his pain at the break-up of his relationship is through meeting jargon. This leads to some excellent if gentle comic exchange.
Moment of Truth by Richard C. Harris (currently in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea)
Recovering from a heart attack, manager Jack Carter can’t wait to get back to work. His wife Joyce tries to persuade him to retire but, loyalty to the company he’s served for many years compels him to return.
In this play the protagonist, Jack, goes through a serious and convincing transformation. Convinced that he can carry on in a highly stressful and complex job, he finally has his moment of truth. A fairly conventional take on this theme, but it contains a lot of humanity and some nicely clipped dialogue.
Lost in the Heart by Gregory Dally (Clyde)
Memories can be a solace – or a vortex. Intrigued by happenstance, Laila seeks to explain the love that left her, a myth consumed in surroundings that never let her forget him.
A grandmother and grandson meet and make sense of the past. There is some good exposition and very good character development. The play needed more dramatic progression and a more solid ending to be fully realized.
Two of a Kind by B.E. Turner (Otaki)
Two women meet and have a conversation that is open to interpretation.
This play had a lot of promise but was let down by an abrupt ending. Two women of different ages connect and reveal the darkness of their pasts. Despite their deep connection, they are in a state of perpetual haunting and aggravation. The writing had good poetic value and a very clear voice.
NOTES FROM THE ADJUDICATOR, ANGIE FARROW
Credit was given to playwrights who showed an awareness of a larger theme beyond the immediacy of character and action.
Credit was given to plays that had a sense of shape and story progression. Several of the plays were really sketches, interludes that lacked the structure of a play.
Playwrights are reminded that although swearing and cursing are part of the vernacular they must not mask the articulation of the thematic concerns of the play
Very few of the plays displayed an awareness of the relationship of New Zealand to the rest of the world. This is an area with the potential to be much further explored.
There was no stipulation that the plays should be experimental. It was, however, refreshing to see that some playwrights were courageous enough to explore different dramatic forms. These plays were often the ones with the potential to make the most theatrical impact
Plays with an historical setting need to display the distinctive flavour of that time and this can only be done through evidence of research expressed through specific detail.
Characterisation needs to be both general and individual. A character may be a typical ‘type’ that the audience can recognise but they also need to be fitted out with characteristics that are particular to themselves. We are all representatives of our particular time and place but we are also individuals within that setting.
In relation to setting playwrights should try to think of the specifics of that time and place. What makes it distinctive and what sets it apart from everything else?
PROFILES OF THE THREE PANZ COMPETITION WINNERS
Robert Gilbert began his theatre career in 1981 as a trainee actor with Prospect Theatre Company in Hamilton, and has since appeared in scores of professional theatre and television productions. As a director, he has won Best Production awards at many NZ Theatre Festivals, Brisbane Arts Theatre Festival, Norfolk Island Theatre Festival, and the Best Director Award at Port Macquarie Theatre Festival, Brisbane Arts Theatre Festival, and at the Norfolk Island Theatre Festival an unprecedented five times.
He has written more than 20 plays, mostly for children or adult comedies. He has twice been shortlisted for the Playmarket Plays for the Young competition. His full-length play, Trans Tasmin, was selected as part of The Court Theatre’s annual Midwinter Readings series last year. More recently, Robert made the long list for The British Theatre Challenge, and received an honourable mention in the New Works of Merit playwriting competition in New York.
June Allen, a PANZ Life Member, started her script writing over thirty years ago with The Sound and Light Show of Norfolk Island. She enjoys live theatre, jazz and classical music. In the past she has acted in Gisborne, Auckland, Norfolk Island and Sydney. Most recently she was type cast as the slightly crazy cook, Letitia Cropley in a stage production of The Vicar of Dibley. Currently June is enjoying writing NZ animal stories for children.
June has found out the importance of working and eworking an idea that you have faith in. The basis of the 10 minute play that has won her 2nd prize this year was entered in a PANZ competition something like 10 years ago. The premise was the same, but the play didn’t appeal to that particular judge at all. June weeded out the bits the first judge didn’t like, reworked the setting, and now is thrilled that A Much Bigger Story has had success. “Thank you, Angie, for your insightful comments.”
Marc Shaw AKA Timothy Malcolm has been an Actor and Director of theatre in Hamilton over 30 years, more latterly in quiet repose rather than energetic presentation. It was because he felt he came to be likened to an artistic sloth that he decided it was time to write his own play, The Passions of War, and stage it with his own Shavian Theatre Company – a more low-key offshoot of the very successful Company ‘Theatrevue’ of the 80’s. In researching and writing the play, however, all humour ended for the subject of The Passions of War was the birth of a New Zealand history that was its own, and which had been announced to the world by the blood of men and women shed in lands far from the safe shores of such a young nation.
Currently Marc Shaw is also a Doctor, Traveller, and observer of fine humour. He has research interests in infectious diseases, expedition medicine, and currently is the Medical Director of the Worldwise Travellers Health Centres of New Zealand. His interests other than an extensive experience in the theatre include photography, sculpture, film and video production, and an undying enjoyment of living in Hamilton.