Thirty-two playwrights, a half-dozen directors, and around 90 plays in less than two hours: This is the South Florida One-Minute Play Festival, now in its fifth year. The festival, performed at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and curated by Caitlin Wees and Dominic D’Andrea, has become a phenomenon. South Florida’s version of the festival is part of a larger grassroots movement of one-minute-play fests, the brainchild of festival founder and producing artistic director D’Andrea.
Over the past ten years, hundreds of festivals have been produced in more than 20 U.S. cities. New Times spoke with D’Andrea about this year’s One-Minute Play Festival (1MPF) in Miami.
Why one-minute plays? How did you stumble across that form, and how does the time constraint influence content?
Dominic D’Andrea: I don’t think we “stumbled” across this work. We targeted the idea — which really didn’t much exist in a robust way before 1MPF — and rigorously and lovingly developed it into a tool for social engagement over an entire decade of national work in hyperlocal communities and populations. Now we are the largest grassroots theater company in the country.
When a one-minute play is good, it suggests a world that is much wider and fuller than its frame. When we see 90 heartbeats/windows and we are looking through all of them, the picture of the world around us suddenly becomes much fuller. The One-Minute Play Festival is a container for ideas, conversations, responses, and big conversations that exist within a given community that we are engaged with. We see 1MPF as a social barometer project because it’s just that: using the form of the one-minute play (which are theatrical moments) to explore, name, and distinguish what a group has to say in their responses, not what any one individual offers. Our work with 1MPF is one of the only greater American theater movements that focuses on the macro, and that’s probably why we are so prominent right now. There’s a need to hold space for community response. We are the artistic space that does really well right now.
Having produced the festival for four years, is there anything that you would say is distinctly “Miami” about the plays you’ve seen?
[I've seen plays address] disparity of wealth, speaking English or not, and the word “refugee,” which comes up every year, instead of “immigrant.” I am particularly interested in that one, since I myself am a first-generation. Also, conservative and liberal politics; snowbird culture; age/dying/death/loss; climate change; Cuban culture; and LGBTQIA or trans/queer culture.
Who came up with this year’s theme, “America postelection,” and what can you tell us about the plays that will debut?
There is no singular theme, as our work is about highlighting themes and ideas that are offered to us by the community. That’s part of the Zeitgeist-focused work that we are doing. I can share that this body of work is largely about Florida/America postelection, what our future might look like, and how we got here. It’s a very political and raw body of work, and that is probably because we are all in a raw and confusing tipping point as a culture at large. This work reflects where we are in a pretty authentic way.
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Any advice to audience members on how to get the most out of the experience?
Think of it as one play/one movement and not a bunch of tiny ones. It’s closer to epic theater in its presentation than it is short-form theater. That’s very intentional. We build this as one play/one action. Discuss what you say, felt, heard, and learned about your community afterward. Think about what this says about who we are right now, what we value, what’s missing, and what actions we might want to see. We hope work like this is a possible entry point into designing the world we want to live in.
— Mia Leonin, Artburstmiami.com
South Florida One-Minute Play Festival
8 p.m. Saturday, January 14, and 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Janurary 15, at the Deering Estate Visitor Center Theater, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay; deeringestate.org; 305-235-1668, ext. 233. Tickets cost $20.