OXFORD • Playwrights spend long hours composing stories that are presented on the theater stage.
Now, imagine trying to cram all that literary magic into a 10-minute production?
Writers from around the world accept the challenge by submitting scripts to Theatre Oxford's annual 10-Minute Play Festival. This year's festival has selected its top five entries lasting 10 minutes or less.
"You have to get right to the story and you can't spend a lot of time on backstory or other plot lines," said Kate Lechler, festival director. "It's really focused on one plot line and usually one or two moments that can elicit that story."
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the live presentation of the plays will not take place this year. Instead, the plays have been filmed and will be shown twice Sunday night at the Ox-Film Drive-In, located on the Cannon Lot at 100 Thacker Loop.
Show times are 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10-15 and are available at oxfordac.eventline.org
Lechler said this year's entrants were asked to focus on theme of magic. There were 115 entries.
"Our writers have done a fantastic job," she said. "We have some plays this yeare that have twists and turns, all in 10 minutes. It's been quite impressive to see what these writers have done."
The entrants submit their plays for a panel of judges who read the plays. Without knowing the identity of the writers, the judges review each script and then select about 20 finalists for a second reading.
During the second reading, Lechler said, the judges also consider if Theatre Oxford has the technical resources to support a play entry. From there, the top finalists are selected.
In past festivals, the plays were performed live at the Powerhouse arts center.
This year's overall winner is "Doppelganger," written by California-based writer Barry Wood. One runner-up entry, "Miss Ida's Magic," was written by Ole Miss alum Jason Milligan.
"(Milligan) writes plays and is from this area," Lechler said. "Because we read them blind, we didn't know it was his. But once we look at the names, several people on our board said, 'Jason Milligan?' We know him. We worked with him before.'
Other finalists are "It's Never Too Late" by Steve Pryor, "What You Wish For" by Scott Gibson and "Tooth or Dare" by Emily McClain.
The festival each year also commissions a local author to write a play. This year's contributor is Mary Miller, who wrote "A Young Ghost."
"Oxford's a great literary town," Lechler said. "Every year, I reach out to our community authors and ask if they would write a play for us. We're very grateful to have them. They blend well with the other plays."