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Lifestyle

July 4, 2013

Laugh, cry and fall in love -- all in 10 minutes

Salem Theatre Company festival features short plays that don't shortchange the audience

How are 10-minute plays like New England’s weather?

“If you don’t like the one you’re watching, just wait 10 minutes,” said Gary LaParl, managing director of the Salem Theatre Company.

There are 10 plays in Moments of Play, the company’s upcoming festival of 10-minute plays, which should give audiences plenty of chances to find something they like.

“I love 10-minute plays because they happen fast,” LaParl said. “Most of them pull you in immediately and hold on to you, until they drop you like a hot potato.

“But, sometimes, they take awhile to perk, like they’re sneaking up on you, just to slap you in the face or say, ‘Boo.’”

This is the seventh Moments of Play, which was founded by Catherine Bertrand, one of the theater company’s previous artistic directors.

LaParl also credits Bertrand with establishing a special feature of the festival, a panel of nationally recognized playwrights who will meet on Saturday night to evaluate the plays.

For the last two or three years, the lineup has included Richard Dresser, who teaches at Rutgers University and wrote a musical about the Red Sox, “Johnny Baseball,” that was performed at the American Repertory Theatre in 2010.

He is joined by Ronan Noone, who won the Michael Kanin National Playwriting Award for “The Lepers of Baile Baiste,” and Kate Snodgrass, a playwriting professor in the graduate creative writing department at Boston University.

“They come on Saturday to the 5:00 performance, take a half an hour break and have this playwright panel,” LaParl said. “They spend about an hour going through each of the plays.”

The theater company put out a call for submissions at the end of December, then collected plays through March and spent April deciding which 10 they wanted to produce.

“Last year, we did not limit the regional scope of where we solicit, and we got 800 plays from all over the world,” LaParl said. “It was a little overwhelming. This year, we limited it to New England and got 175 submissions.”

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