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Preparing for the Boston Theater Marathon
By SALLY CRAGIN  |  May 16, 2006

Kate Snodgrass

No sooner has the final runner staggered past the Prudential than it’s time to gear up for another long-distance event: the Boston Theater Marathon, which takes place this Sunday, May 21. Now in its eighth outing, this festival of 10-minute plays features work by 51 dramatists produced by 50 New England theater companies, with every state but Vermont represented. The vignettes come from novice sprinters as well as endurance champs Israel Horovitz, Robert Brustein, and Ed Bullins.

At the starting line stands original Marathon artistic director Kate Snodgrass, who laughs lightly when asked whether it gets any easier, then replies, “Not yet,” and adds that even in its early years producing the Marathon was a substantial undertaking. “We started with 40 theater companies and gained confidence, and that increased to 50.” This year’s new participants include Alarm Clock Theatre, City Stage Company, Hovey Players, Turtle Lane Playhouse, Metro Stage Company, 3 Monkeys Theatrical Productions, and Image Theatre Company. And Merrimack Repertory Theatre returns after a long absence.

One veteran Marathon actor, Richard Snee, makes his playwriting debut with Black Irish, which will be presented by New Repertory Theatre. An encounter between a human-resources director and a male job applicant, the play, he explains, finds the director telling the man that “she’s pleased he’s the first black woman to run the department, and he spends the play convincing her he’s not black, nor a woman.”

Snee appears in Black Irish alongside his wife, noted actress Paula Plum; both have appeared in previous Marathons. “Several people describe doing the Marathon as being shot out of a cannon,” he says. “Bang, you’re there, and 10 minutes later, you’re done.”

But it takes months to get there. This season brought 300 entries to be read by a retinue of judges including Snodgrass, who reads everything. Some writers are exempted from the audition process, among them Horovitz, Brustein, Bullins, and, this year, Kirsten Greenidge.

The 2006 roster offers a backyard sinkhole, a zombie in the basement, and a 10-minute opera. But Snodgrass finds that some years offer inadvertent hemes. “One year, there were several plays about trees, or characters on top of a cliff — obvious kinds of exercises that might have been assigned in a class.” Plays that rely on elaborate sets or that “move back and forth in time and space or have too much of a set,” she adds, usually don’t make the cut. “A 10-minute play is really a beautiful little haiku. It should have one movement, one change, and then it’s over. It’s like a poem, and you want to have one thing to say and say it as succinctly as possible.”

BOSTON THEATER MARATHON | Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston | May 21 | noon–10 pm | $30 to benefit the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund | 617.933.8600 

On the Web
Boston Theatre Marathon: www.bu.edu/btm

Related: Endurance act, 2009: The year in theater, Play by Play: May 21, 2010, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Paula Plum, Boston Center for the Arts, Robert Brustein,  More more >
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BOSTON THEATRE MARATHON | Time for the eighth annual exhibition of 50 short plays by 51 playwrights performed by 50 New England theater companies in the course of 10 hours, all of it magically engineered by artistic director Kate Snodgrass. Playwrights run the gamut from well-known entities Robert Brustein, Ed Bullins, Leslie Epstein, Israel Horovitz, Ernest Thompson, John Kuntz, Jon Lipsky, Richard Snee, Ted Reinstein, and Jack Neary to talented newcomers. Proceeds benefit the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund, which provides emergency funds to Boston theater artists and companies who are without resources after suffering a catastrophic event. Here’s the complete, logistically boggling schedule of events. Noon–1 pm: North Shore Music Theatre: Mal Canto, by Robert Bonotto; Centastage: Things Have Changed, by Greg Lam; Stoneham Theatre: Weight, by Janet Kenney; Mill 6 Theatre Collaborative: The Tree Thing, by David Ervin; Portland Stage Company: Kickass Librarian, by Jason Wilkins. 1-2 pm: New Repertory Theatre: Black Irish, by Richard Snee; Nora Theatre Company: Early Dismissal, by Vanessa David; Theatre Cooperative: Drive, by John Shea; Our Place Theatre Project: One for the Road, by Ed Bullins; Lyric Stage Company: Fine!, by Ted Reinstein. 2-3 pm: Alarm Clock Theatre Company: Normal, by Jami Brandli; Pilgrim Theatre: Oscar, by John Kuntz; New Provincetown Players: That Slow Inevitable, by Daniel Cleary; Zeitgeist Stage Company: Thirst, by Sean David Bennett; QE2 Players: Miss Marple Attends a Matinee, by George Sauer. 3-4 pm: Shadow Boxing Theatre Workshop: Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman, by David Rabinow; West End Theatre: All in a Day’s Work, by M. Lynda Robinson; Actors’ Shakespeare Project: China, by K. Alexa Mavromatis; Out of the Blue Theatre Company: Brain Surgery, by Leslie Harrell Dillen; Company One: Maybe They’re Wrong, by Kirsten Greenidge. 4-5 pm: SouthCity Theatre: Bernard, by Lee Rutty; 11:11 Theatre Company: Full, by Bill Doncaster; Boston Playwrights’ Theatre: Resurrection, by David Kruh; Boston Theatre Works: Huma’s Loom, by J.K. Walsh; Wellesley Summer Theatre: Theology Class, by Megan Green. 5-6 pm: Shakespeare & Company: Deep, by Matt Mayerchak; Wheelock Family Theatre: For Ellen, by Carl Danielson; 3 Monkeys Theatrical Productions: Men and the Moon, by Steven Bogart; Hovey Players: Our Dear Dad, by Brody Lipton; SpeakEasy Stage Company: American Terrorist, by Ernest Thompson. 6-7 pm: Village Theatre Project: Zoology, by Emily Dendinger; City Stage Company: Rusty Got Sprayed!, by Larry Cohn + Susan Gassett; Huntington Theatre Company: Vinny’s Vision, by Jim Gordon; Image Theatre Company: Martinis, Dry & Bitter, by Robert Mattson; Gloucester Stage Company: Inconsolable, by Israel Horovitz. 7-8 pm: American Repertory Theatre: Airport Hell, by Robert Brustein; Metro Stage Company: Bossy and Jelly, by Jeremy Goldstein; Vineyard Playhouse: Belly of the Whale, by Jon Lipsky; Rough & Tumble Theatre Company: Hinterlands, Season One, by George Spelvin; Publick Theatre: Bobby Came Home, by Andrea Kennedy. 8-9 pm: Foothills Theatre Company: Possibilities, by Peter M. Floyd; TYG Productions: Brushstroke, by John Shanahan; Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre: Agnus Dei, by Jim Dalglish; Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Dressed Up like a Douche, by Rick Park; Turtle Lane Playhouse: Paul & Eddie, by Ken Brisbois. 9-10 pm: Playwrights’ Platform:A Ticklish Situation, by Christopher King; Queer Soup Theater Company: The Sanzibel Putt Putt Rally, by Jess Martin; Underground Railway Theater: Stop Rain, by Patrick Gabridge; New Century Theatre: She’s So Fabulous, by Jack Neary. | Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | May 21 | noon–10 pm | $30
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