Making 60 seconds count at the One-Minute Play Festival

The One-Minute Play Festival was a hit in Chicago.  Credit: Chris Plevin The One-Minute Play Festival was a hit in Chicago.
Credit: Chris Plevin

How much can you say in a minute? Nearly 50 playwrights will offer their answers to that question with more than 70 new plays this week as part of Philly’s first One-Minute Play Festival. “The one-minute play is about creating a highly theatrical singular moment,” says Dominic D’Andrea, founder and artistic director of the New York-based One-Minute Play Festival (OMPF). “It’s about the challenge of saying something in the space of 60 seconds that is both relaxed and resonant. It’s like looking through these little windows at much larger worlds.”

The OMPF started in New York in 2006, with a mission that was more concerned with community engagement than with daring playwrights to be concise. “It was about bringing everybody in the community together and offering them a new kind of challenge, just to see what happened,” D’Andrea says. “What we achieved that first year was an immediate buy-in from all of the artists.”

That initial attempt was so successful, in fact, that within a few years other cities were encouraging the festival to tour. But D’Andrea realized that simply taking plays created in New York to other cities didn’t fit with fest’s community-oriented goals. “The reason that the New York festival was so successful was because it was for, by and about the community that we live in,” he says. “So if I was going to ‘tour’ this work I would have to source artists locally.”

Over the last year, D’Andrea has worked with almost 50 local scribes, including Madi DiStefano, Michael Hollinger, Jacqueline Goldfinger and InterAct Theatre Company artistic director Seth Rozin. The latter was key to bringing the festival to Philly for the first time — the OMPF partnered with InterAct to present the three-day event.

The benefit of working with artists in each city, D’Andrea explains, is to craft plays that offer a picture of the local landscape. In Philly, themes include gentrification, living in the wake of violence, sports fandom and food culture. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Here’s what your community of artists is thinking about and responding to right now at this place in this time in this city.’ The OMPF becomes a convening to gauge where we are through an artistic lens.”

One-Minute Play Festival
Tonight-July 31, 8 p.m.
Adrienne Theater
2030 Sansom St.
$20, 215-568-8079
www.interacttheatre.org

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