Can an artistic space function as a true community organization where diverse voices and ideas flourish? This is precisely the question Bedlam Theatre is attempting to answer with their upcoming seventh annual festival of ten-minute plays. Bedlam has been a fixture of the West Bank arts community for a number of years, and they are continuing their mission of community outreach and participation in their swanky new space at 1501 South 6th Street—right off the light-rail tracks in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
For more information on the Ten Minute Play Festival, see Bedlam Theatre’s Web site.
Maren Ward and John Bueche serve together as artistic directors of Bedlam Theatre. According to Ward, Bueche originally suggested the Ten Minute Play Festival in 2002 “as a way to provide opportunities for involvement in the artistic process, develop new material [and] allow for a growing number of associates to cross disciplines—actors to direct, designers to write plays.” The festival, organized in consultation with a variety of community members, was an immediate success. “That first year was an absolute blast,” remembers Ward. “So we kept doing it.”
The festival is meant to bring together artists with all levels of skill and experience and to give professional artists a chance to try new ideas. Throughout the process of mounting the plays, skilled artists lead workshops and demonstrations for novice participants. Ward emphasizes that the festival manifests Bedlam’s core values. “I think the Ten Minute Play Festival is indicative of Bedlam’s ideology that everyone, professional artist or not, needs access to opportunities for creativity—including adults who perhaps have another profession. This ties in to our mission to blend professional and community art, and ultimately subvert that distinction.”
The festival will run from May 28 to June 1, but now is the time to get involved if you have an interest. The deadline to submit play proposals is March 15th; auditions for acting roles are April 13th.
Jonah Winn-Lenetsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota. He teaches and writes about theatre and activism, especially when they come together.