BWW Interview: Artistic Director Nicholas Garelick Talks SCRIPTWRITERS/HOUSTON'S 10X10 at Pearl Theatre
Every year Scriptwriters/Houston presents a special play festival that showcases ten plays by ten local authors with ten separate casts performing the ten pieces all in one night. We thought it was only logical to sit down with artistic director Nicholas Garelick to ask him ten questions and see if we could get ten answers out of him. So if you've got ten minutes to spare, here are ten things you should know about the 10X10.
How would you describe the 10X10 play festival to someone who has never been?
Nicholas Garelick: The 10x10 is Scriptwriters/Houston's biggest event of the year. It's ten brand new plays by ten of our talented writers. Or, for the theatrically challenged ... it's a cheap and easy way to say you've at least seen ten plays this year. Get all your culture done in one night! Best part: If you hate one of them, wait ten minutes. We even have monologue palette cleansers in-between the plays.
What year is this?
Nicholas Garelick: Um, it's 2016. It has been for several month now ... [blank stare] Oh, you meant ... right. This will be our 26th annual 10x10. Twenty-six years. Wow, that's a lot of plays we've performed through the 10x10s over the years.
What are the dates, where is the theater, and where can someone get advance tickets?
Nicholas Garelick: This year's 10x10 will be September 15 to 17 and 22 to 24 at the Pearl Theatre. Reservations can be made at email@example.com.
About how many actors are involved this year?
Nicholas Garelick: This year, we have 40 actors participating, representing theatres from all over the city.
Any descriptions of the plays you want to highlight?
Nicholas Garelick: Rachel Dickson's ERIE FIRE I find very interesting as it depicts Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the safety hood and someone most people aren't familiar with, and an incident that occurred in 1916 off Lake Erie. Eric C. Jones's MUSCLE SHOALS also has another famous event, this one depicting an early recording session by Aretha Franklin. Both plays deal with the prejudices these geniuses had to deal with. A big hit with the directors is 2B OR NAH 2B: SEXTING HAMLET by Donna Latham, a modernization of the Shakespearean classic as Hamlet has to deal with some unfortunate sexts. I'm particularly interested in Michelle R. Taylor's MRS. OPAL, which I've heard is based on the playwright's own family. (A daring thing to write about for anyone!)
Who are the ten authors this year and who wrote the monologues?
Nicholas Garelick: The ten playwrights this year are Rachel Dickson, Fernando Dovalina, Eric C. Jones, Donna Latham, John Meiners, Jr., Jeffrey Strausser, Steve Stewart, Michelle R. Taylor, Lauren Tunnell, and Carl Williams. The monologues this year are the works of Alexander P. Garza, Bebe Gow, Kay McStay, Bradley Nies, Jere Pfister, B. N. Reichenberger, and Michael Weems.
How can someone join Scriptwriters/Houston if interested?
Nicholas Garelick: We have our general meetings (free and open to the public) every third Monday of the month. To become a full member, our annual dues are $35. The best way to keep up with our events and meetings is on our Facebook page (facebook.com/scriptwritershouston).
What is your favorite thing about putting on the festival?
Nicholas Garelick: This is a chance for local playwrights to show off their craft to the public. One of my first productions as a playwright was a 10x10, and I'm excited to have the chance to help others experience that thrill of having their show performed in their home town (a requirement is that all playwrights have to live within 100 miles of Houston) in front of a local audience. This is Jeffrey and Michelle's first 10x10, so I'm excited to see the shows they bring to the stage. We're also showcasing a lot of talent from our directors and actors, many of whom don't get seen as much outside their home theatres.
What is the biggest challenge?
Nicholas Garelick: With as large of a festival as this is (and especially one with such a long history), the hardest part is to make sure all the parts come together properly. I approach 10x10 as one large show and not just severAl Smaller plays. That includes a lot of balancing and trying to create a full night of theatre that weaves together, giving the audience highs and lows, laughs and tears, and chances to escape and to think all at appropriate times. It also means a lot of wrangling of actors, directors, and everyone working backstage to make this show a success. Hopefully, we've succeeded.
Anything cool we should know about this year?
Nicholas Garelick: Many times, unintended themes have been shared across the show through several of the plays. This year, all but one of the plays seem to fit into an overarching theme of remembrances and revisionist history. We have two plays depicting actual historical events, two plays that are based on real events, one reimagining of a mythology, one revision of a classic, two that deal with reunions, and one that looks at the past and revises it in the present. The odd duck out deals with preparing for the future and the changes that come from it. Also, all of the monologues were chosen based on how they fit with the themes presented in the selected plays. I'll leave it to the audience to figure out how they all fit.
Performances are at 8 p.m. September 15-17 and September 22-24th at Pearl Theatre, 14803 Park Almeda Drive. Tickets may be purchased at the door no later than 10 minutes before performance start time. To make a reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: "10x10 Reservations"). $15.