STAGE | PERFECT TEN| PLAYWRIGHT'S SURVIVAL GUIDE

Perfect 10:
Writing and Producing the 10-Minute Play

“Playwright Gary Garrison’s Perfect 10 is a refreshing, albeit brief, primer examining the process of writing ten-minute plays and the practicalities of producing them. Garrison advises playwrights and producers, interviews professionals who have helped create and nurture the national ten-minute play phenomenon, and samples scripts and commentary from renowned dramatists of this short play format. Do not let the title deceive, though. Garrison makes it clear he cannot get anyone to write a perfect drama. Rather he aims to “perfect [the reader’s] writing a ten-minute play.” Garrison begins by relating his experiences seeing and reading ten-minute plays. His observations are straightforward, offering opinions on what subject matter is appropriate with respect to the format and its limitations. He then discusses fundamental play construction with sound comments about creating compelling characters, conflict, structure, dialogue, theatricality, specificity, and avoiding sabotaging pitfalls. His sensible and astute suggestions are based on empirical observation.

"Garrison discusses complications to expect and ways to avoid disaster when producing a bill of ten-minute plays. Many of his warnings are often overlooked common sense. Garrison then lets others speak. People like Michael Bigelow Dixon (literary manager, Actors Theatre of Louisville), Gregg Henry (artistic director, Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival), and Judith Royer Playwright’s Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and Regional Chair of the New Plays Program for KC/ACTF) discuss the ten-minute format from both artistic and practical perspectives. Their insights are invaluable.

"The last half of Perfect 10 moves away from commentary and toward the exploitable. Garrison provides a list of places seeking short plays and criteria for submissions. Perhaps most useful are the scripts by five produced playwrights of the ten minute format. Each drama illustrates the previous discussions with concrete examples, followed by questions for critical thought and some of the authors’ views about their works. Finally, Garrison helps the reader write a draft of a ten-minute play by laying out the process in ten matter-of-fact, stimulating, and fun steps. Garrison’s style is engaging, energetic, direct, and exudes a sense of humor without lessening the intensity and passion he has for the topic. While no book can guarantee success, this guide will certainly inspire effort.”

• Robin Stone, Theatre Journal

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