“Before you get dressed, ask yourself if
you would wear that outfit in prison.”
Ten minute plays are a cheap, fast, and easy way to showcase a variety of voices and styles, in the theater community, within a reasonable block of time. It’s a cool way to get the most amount of culture with the least amount of confusion. The strength of the ten minute play is that it fits comfortably between the comedic sketch and the one act play. However, a 10 minute play isn’t as desperate to make you laugh as a sketch, nor is it as nebulous as a one act play; which could stretch anywhere from 25 to 75 minutes and involve your dad’s girlfriend yelling about the NEA budget cuts and how president pumpkin head is a tiny hand man-baby with the caustic smile of a pedophile. That’s not even the play, bro; that’s just her pre-show speech. The play is about the difficult time she had trying to buy designer curtain rods from a misogynist clerk at Home Depot. See . . . confusing. I’ve written a few 10 minute plays and they typically follow a strict formula: two guys, usually close friends, set in a bar; they both need each other to carry out a favor to make their lives better, one favor is outlandish while the counter favor is more pragmatic, tons of transgressive language and urban surrealism abound. It all ends with a call to action and involves multiple Prince references. I’ve also acted in a number of ten minute play festivals which have often felt like waking up in an infirmary on Acid. Just imagine, for ten minutes you’re a hobo who can see the future and thirty minutes later you’re a six foot sausage giving out marriage advice, while you’re roasting in a cast iron skillet. Through my experiences, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the east coast, do some kooky short theater, and meet a bunch of awesome artists along the way. So awesome they took some time out of their busy schedules to talk with me about theater shorts and jorts.
Libby Emmons, playwright, Co-Creator of Sticky immersive ten minute plays set in bars around New York City
How are jorts like 10 minute plays?
Jorts made from jeans are not like 10-minute plays, because 10-minute plays are not excerpts cut from full lengths. Jorts that are made to be jorts are like 10-minute plays because they are meant to exist on their own, with barely a passing reference to their full-length counterparts.
As a writer how do you make the adjustment of telling a story in 10 minutes versus two acts?
10-minute plays are for 10-minute stories. When writing a 10 minute play, I find a story that can be fully told in 10 minutes. If the story can’t be told in 10-minutes, well then that’s not a story for a 10-minute play.
Have you ever worn a jort that made you feel artistically inspired?
I have been artistically inspired to make jorts. I made a pair once that used a vintage 1970’s crazy orange paisley scarf for the hem. I used to have a short skirt I made from a pair of jeans, and I wore them for several summers, and have rarely been happier than while wearing that skirt.
Justin Lawson Isett, playwright, Social Media Coordinator Fells Point Theater Company Baltimore, MD
What’s the appeal of the 10 minute play?
They’re appealing because they’re noncommittal. They’re like the Tinder of theater. You don’t like it, it’ll swipe itself left soon enough. It’s really good for people who can’t commit to a longer story.
Jorts are a by product of jeans, but where did 10 minute plays come from?
10 minute plays are written by playwrights, sometimes stories are this cool little thing that happens. I started my first ten minute play from one line “Cancer’s fucking Cancer.” I just wrote some lines after that.
Can you hook us up with a three line play about jorts?
Jorts: You should wear me. You’ll look great. I make your booty pop and the ladies love it when your booty pops. That girl at work will like you. She’ll stare at your jorts and then stare into your eyes and say “I always loved you” and you’ll say “I know” because you really liked Star Wars as a kid but she won’t get the reference so it’ll just sound cocky but she kind of likes cocky dudes because her father was never really sure of himself then she’ll run into your arms and hold you and you’ll feel ok that you dropped out of college and work a mid manager job because you’ll have found love.
Rachel Hynes, Teaching Artist at ETC: Educational Theater Company, Arlington, VA. Poetic story teller, performance artist, devised/physical theater artist, D.C.
Can you tell us a poetic story about jorts?
I owned jorts when I was in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. One time, I wore a skirt to a school dance, because you were supposed to try and be pretty, right? It was such a cool outfit, they were my prettiest clothes. I showed up at the school dance and EVERYONE WAS WEARING JORTS (but it was the olden days, so we called them Jean Shorts) and I wasn’t dressed like everyone else and I wanted to die inside and I sat on the curb in my skirt, trying to make sure no one saw my underwear and dying and I made myself miserable because I was twelve and I didn’t know that fun came from the inside, not from your fucking JORTS.
Are you still into jorts?
Actually, I’m a big fan of the onsie.
Ali Ayala. Director, Co-Creator of Sticky: immersive ten minute plays set in bars around New York City
What would be the major conflict in your play about jorts?
Arguably the most offensive clothing item on the planet since Daisy Duke stepped out of the General Lee and Tobias Funke permanently donned a pair as a never nude.The very existence of jorts is conflict enough for any play, but here are a few potential plot lines:
Customize Your Jorts: From Trashy To Trendy. A local boutique owner sets out to do the impossible and make jorts fashionable. Will our hero succeed or will she be shut down by the towns decency council–my money is on the council.
Jorts: The Relationship Breaker. Forget the fatal couples trip to Ikea, Alice and Andy are breaking up over Andy’s refusal to stop wearing jorts in public. What begins as a seemingly understandable request devolves into an epic battle that may end in murder. (note: the plays setting is also in an Ikea.)
Jorts Only!: The new bar in town has a strict dress code–just jorts. No plot summary necessary. Hilarity ensues. Conflict inherent. Partial nudity required.
Have you ever directed a play in jorts?
Short answer: never.
Long answer: never.
Wearing jorts is acceptable for one activity and one activity only: cleaning your bathroom. I do not recall when I first came to hold this unwavering belief , but I do know I am a better person for it.
To find out more about upcoming projects from the artists featured in this article you should follow them on their social media and websites:
Justin Lawson Isett at https://twitter.com/Justinisett
Libby Emmons & Ali Ayala at https://li88yinc.com/
Rachel Hynes at http://www.rachelhynes.org/