By Jeff Kubik
For six years, Ground Zero’s 10 Minute Play Festival has brought together Calgary’s up-and-coming theatre companies before the assembled audiences of the High Performance Rodeo.
Given a playwright, a prop and a line of dialogue (this year’s theme: George Bush’s dyslexic aphorisms), each company has 24 hours to prepare a new production.
This year, the Big Secret Theatre played host to eight companies including Tiny Tuna Theatre, Dark Forest Theatre Company, FireBelly Theatre, Solocentric Theatre and Dance, Obscene But Not Heard, Sage Theatre, Ground Zero Theatre and theatreBOOM.
From Tiny Tuna’s shocking vision of a world without the French to Sage Theatre’s juxtaposition of the tsunami tragedy with Calgary’s homelessness in Welcome to Freedom Street, Monday night’s productions were a resounding success across the board. Unfortunately, with eight productions there can be only three best in show.
Obscene But Not Heard
The Golden Age
Playwright: Tony Binns
Taking the nostalgic charm of a ’50s radio show and combining it with the inevitable barrage of deliciously atrocious puns stemming from a diaper, The Golden Age was a master work of golden age parody with its radio serial, “The White Diaper.” With the versatile Tom Sarsons providing noises ranging from Kyoto ray to the scribblings of a white board while still keeping a straight face, 10 Minute Play Festival veterans Obscene But Not Heard once again prove themselves the crÃ¨me de le crÃ¨me of last minute skittery.
Use of prop and quote: A baby diaper begets a super hero with diaper-related powers. Ingenious… but soon its powers shall be mine! I’m still a little unclear as to how fish and humans can live in harmony though.
Playwrights: Evan Rothery & Joel Smith
Poor Proctor (Jason Patrick Rothery), it just ain’t easy having it all–the iPod, the X-Box and the contorting yoga girlfriend (Jamie Konchak). There’s got to be something more, some trinket that will make it all better. Have no fear, because Krenshaw (Christopher Austman) is here with the cure for what ails you, slick as snake oil and just as charming. It’s a con with all the art of a well-choreographed dance number and a jab at hyper-consumerism with all the sharpness of a metallic spiked bracelet.
Use of prop and quote: George Bush’s inability to correctly say how many times it takes to fool him coupled with the use of a bracelet as a symbol for thoughtless capitalism? It’s poetry is what it is… poetry.
Ground Zero Theatre
Playwright: Neil Fleming
For aspiring assassins, there’s no better place to learn the delicate trade than Night School. Taught by Sean Bowie’s “Wolf,” the classroom is a collection of three archetypal students complete with a black-clad seductress (Lynn Friesen), an obsessive overachiever (Dietra Kalyn) and a bumbling oaf (Nate Prochnau). Is there anything more hilarious than a bumbling oaf snapping his fingers repeatedly in a mousetrap, while murder and seduction take place in the next room?
Use of prop and quote: Flawless. Congratulations playwright Neil Flemming: you found the hilarity of ongoing mousetrap snaps and combined it with George Bush’s assurance that poor people aren’t necessarily killers. Education is a marvelous thing.