Unsaddest Factory Theater Company’s Ten Minute Play Festival
Beginning with rapid time transitions, a whirling stage like a revolving door transits in and out characters, opening the UnSaddest Factory’s Ten Minute Play Festival with a girl born from a red pod, an android child reminding this viewer at least of the 80s sitcom, robot girl, Little Wonder. Jambell played by Cordelia Snow delivers the awkward, disjointedness of existence in a stiff, flat ennui.
Transit then to the lone rowboat on stage with Evan Moritz playing a solitary man who parallels the story projected behind him of the Steve Martin flick where Martin has fallen in love with the ideal woman who exists only as a brain in a jar. Asking deep questions on the nature of life to the disembodied female consciousness sitting across the boat from him, he proclaims at the end, “I’m beginning to think that you might not even have a nice body.”
The Ten Minute Play Festival mashes and remixes pop culture, composting the influx of decades of media narrative from our childhood and beyond, creating fodder for laughter and contemplation while also shuttling between states of consciousness. Quite coincidentally, a number of the plays explore the role of technology in our lives.
In “CSI: Lord Byrondale’s Green” dramatic irony is explored to its fullest gap in audience knowing, as the murderous truth of Mrs. Calloway’s death is concealed within plain sight of the clueless, 19th century forensics team. Agent Stern and Agent Holbrook are more concerned with the curvature of occipital bones and DNA, Demonic Number Analysis than the bloody sword they witness Mr. Calloway, actor, Tim Paggi, holding as he hunches across stage, covered in blood. In this frolicking depiction of Victorian insanity, technology is embedded in bones, spirits, and leeches while detectives endowed with wit and intellect simultaneously befuddle the most obvious clues.
The macabre grows deeper to a dark and stormy diner where the patrons all have a white, death pallor and a Brooklyn entrepreneur shares with his lady his ideas about psychic TV sets, pictures of souls, and sliced bread conveniences, before a dark stranger arrives at the diner, in a menacing crouch, at the end of his tank, he says. Sitting with a black box before him on the counter, he pulls forth a luminescent green jar glowing like liquid kryptonite. The Brooklyner sitting across the room pipes, “That’s a birth defect waiting to happen.” To which the stranger replies in a hollowing silence, “Birth is the defect.”
Now in its final year, the UnsaddestFactory Theater founders Lola Pierson, Anna Fitzgerald, Cricket Arrison & Sarah Lloyd have decided after four years of hosting the festival to open up space again for their own work and new collaborative projects. Since 2009, they’ve brought together dozens of playwrights and hundreds of actors in a menagerie of odd and original stories. This year with funding from the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, they’ve been able to take the festival to the next level of production with building a revolving stage that speeds the transit of storytelling that’s possible.
The Ten Minute Play Festival establishes tangible and living worlds to just as quickly dissolve them, transporting the audience in time and place while sitting in the bowels of the Bell Foundry’s basement on a hot summer day where you go into the dark to enter the liminal- where your community sheds light on old stories & weaves you new ones.