One-Minute Men (and Women) Bring Plays to the Deering Estate Theater Festival

In a streaming world of tweets and status updates, humanity is moving faster than ever, and increasingly focused on specific yet fleeting moments. And the arts and culture are no exception -- just look at the rise in popularity of short film, Internet memes, and flash fiction. In that spirit, get ready for the first Florida One-Minute Play Festival this Sunday at the Deering Estate.

The festival will produce over 40 original one-minute plays, all written by, directed by, and starring local talent. Miami is one of 12 cities in the country hosting its own OMPF. We caught up with festival producer Andie Arthur of the South Florida Theatre League for a preview of this one-of-a-kind event.

Cultist: What can the audience realistically expect from a one-minute play?
Andie Arthur: The most exciting thing about a one-minute play is that it is one theatrical moment. In talking with the writers, [OMPF founder] Dominic D'Andrea mentioned that the best way to do this is to really look at the space of a minute, and what fits into it and find the smallest possible unit of action. We have dramas, comedies, plays with buttons, plays that leave things open-ended -- just as much range as you'd see in a collection of 50 full length plays, but distilled into one theatrical moment.

Sounds interesting. How does a one-minute play compare to a longer play?
The joking answer is time -- but I think playwright Edith Freni explained the difference eloquently in her blog piece for the OMPF Blog:

"A full-length play is just a succession of single dramatic moments strung together to create a longer narrative. And that's true no matter what your preferred style or dramatic form. So then an O.M.P. is really a single dramatic moment that reveals one closed story point about your characters or their world. I call it 'closed' simply because it does not lead to another moment."

I think she's right. Instead of an evening where you watch a succession of single dramatic moments with one set of characters, audiences will be watching a little under an hour's worth of individual moments.

How are the 40 plays arranged?
The plays were broken up into four separate chunks by Dominic D'Andrea primarily based on theme. Then each collection of plays was handed off to one of our four [local] directors. The directors then shaped them into an arc, working out the transitions between one play to the next. On Sunday, we will arrange the four pieces, putting together the entire piece before the first performance.

Any surprises? Musicals? Visuals? Any silent performances? Anything weird?
We do have some plays that are silent, but no musicals. What was fascinating to see was how similar in theme and content some of the plays are, despite being written by different writers. The range of genre is all over the place -- there are realistic plays, stylistic plays, comedies, dramas, and yet there are themes that thread through many of them.

How many actors are involved?
Each one of our directors chose their own actors. Since we're broadcasting on New Play TV, all the actors are non-equity, which means they don't belong to the actors' union (which doesn't allow their members to be recorded). Because of that, audience members will get to see some really talented emerging actors whom they probably haven't seen before, including students, along with some non-equity favorites.

Any Carbonell winning actors or playwrights?
Michael McKeever is one of our playwrights and is a Carbonell Winner. And a lot of our playwrights are well known and well produced outside of South Florida, including Deborah Zoe Laufer, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Sheri Wilner, David Caudle and Kenny Finkle.

How will this be good for the South Florida Theater community?
It'll help raise our national profile, as we're one of a dozen communities participating in the One Minute Play Festival. Also, being broadcast on New Play TV is another way for us to get the word out about the strength of South Florida's playwrights, actors, and directors. Despite some serious recent losses, this community is resilient, talented, strong and growing -- and a place where playwrights can thrive.

Can you talk about the venue?
The Deering Estate is gorgeous, which is always lovely in a venue -- but more importantly, they want to support the theatre community. They host Miami-Dade County's Playwright Development Program, the Theatre Lab Workshop series, and even would love to host a resident company. They are committed to supporting the arts, and the entire staff is committed and supportive of what we do.

How exciting is this?
I am very excited to see what happens. I love the magic that comes from events like this -- where you bring together cross sections of the entire community. It'll be great to see all these wonderful, intricate moments brought to life.

The first South Florida One-Minute Play Festival will be held Sunday, February 26th at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at The Deering Estate. Tickets cost twenty-five dollars. For tickets and info click here.

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J.J. Colagrande
Contact: J.J. Colagrande