Bedlam Theatre's 10 Fest returns to the West Bank

Bedlam Theatre's 10 Fest returns to the West Bank
Photo by Trang Do

After traveling to north Minneapolis last year, Bedlam Theatre brings its ever-popular 10 Minute Play Festival back to the West Bank for 2012. The event  lands at Mixed Blood Theatre this week for five days of new work developed in the "Open Space Play Dates" conducted over the past few months. During those meetings, a crew of core artists collaborated with anyone who wanted to show up and follow their creative impulses.  

Since the festival is housed at Mixed Blood this year, 10 Fest will be following the Radical Hospitality model. Meaning, if you purchase tickets online they will cost $15. However, if you show up at the door, tickets are free on a first come, first serve basis. An hour before the festival starts there will be an outdoor pre-performance, called Cedar Riverside Live, where youth from the neighborhood will present a talk show. Following that, the first half of the show inside is PG-13 and family-friendly. Afterwards, all bets are off and it becomes an R-rated extravaganza.  

Bedlam Theatre's 10 Fest returns to the West Bank
Photo Courtesy Bedlam Theatre

The event continues on Friday and Saturday night with an after party at the Nomad featuring two additional plays by Corey Walton and Hardy Coleman, as well as music from Black Audience, the Discord Syndicate, and spinning from DJ Shannon Blowtorch and DJ No Pants. 

This year, Bedlam didn't have a call for scripts as they have done in the past. Playwrights could submit pieces, but they had to bring them in on the workshop play dates to be developed in collaboration. There was a core group of artists that planned the events, where literally anyone could show up to a session.  

Some of the plays in this year's festival came from ideas people had been thinking about for a long time, others people formed during the workshops. But it wasn't just writing in the sessions; some people made human pyramids, and others helped develop a new Hijack dance piece using contact improvisation.  

"It was really exciting," says producing artistic director Maren Ward. "A lot of people said they had fun, and that we should make all our plays this way -- just get people in a room, get some ideas, and let people's passions guide the process."

Bedlam Theatre's 10 Fest returns to the West Bank
Photo courtesy Bedlam Theatre

The 10 Minute Play Festival is a chance for artists to try out something outside of their comfort zone. For example, Paige Collette, who does a lot of solo work, decided this year she wanted to write a play for men titled Man Show [what we want to see]. The ensemble-generated piece involved a dozen men working from text Collette generated and direction from Samantha Johns. 

Also in the festival is a piece about human attraction by Steve Ackerman and directed by Ward, called Cat and Me. "It's a satirical play about a relationship with a cat," says Ward. She asked Ackerman if he wanted to work on something together, so he wrote the play and they cast it from the workshops. "We worked with people in different ways," Ward says, "like how to have a cat onstage." In the play, the cat is mostly played by an actor, but they also use a puppet, and a painting.

Bedlam Theatre's 10 Fest returns to the West Bank
Photo by Trang Do

John Bueche co-created with Harry Waters, Jr., Chris Garza, and an ensemble of performers a piece riffing on the two upcoming controversial amendments: the marriage amendment and the voter-ID amendment. MISC Amendments: In My Pants is an emotional catharsis where the audience gets married to each other.  

Bueche didn't write the play before coming to the play dates, but rather only brought an idea and had the people in the workshops create it together. "It would be a totally different play if John had just wrote it," says Ward.   

A real treat this year was the opportunity for Bedlam folk to collaborate with Hijack, Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder's project. Called "Topics in Post-Colonial Collaboration: Froth Sauce," the dance is about "shampooing and shoving," Bueche says. "It's been a lot of fun." 

The 10-Fest is also a place where artists can develop one part of a larger project. Such is the case for New Native Theatre, who are partnering with Bedlam for a new musical debuting next fall. At last year's 10 Fest, the organization performed a kind of pilot episode, and this year, they'll be showcasing songs for the musical with Marissa Carr composing and Rhiana Yazzie serving as playwright.  

But while bigger-name artists populate the show, 10 Fest is ultimately about giving opportunities for anybody who wants to participate. Everyone who showed up to the workshops was invited to perform in one of the plays, and there were also opportunities for a cast made up of Washburn High School students to create work, under the direction of Anton Jones.  


Bedlam's 10 Minute Play Festival
Wednesday, May 30 through Sunday, June 3
7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Mixed Blood Theatre
1501 S. Fourth St., Minneapolis 

Tickets are free on a first come, first served basis, or $15 if reserved online
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Mixed Blood Theatre

1501 4th St. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55454


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