By the time the contest closed for Weathervane Playhouse’s 8x10 TheatreFest on May 15, the Playhouse had received 230 entries, a new record for the 10-minute play competition. Playwrights from around the country submitted plays and kept the first-round judges busy from the middle of December 2014 right up to the deadline at 5 p.m. on that third Friday in May.
“It took the volunteer judges almost a week to catch up reading the last-minute submissions!” said Eileen Moushey, the coordinator of the 8x10 TheatreFest. “We normally get about 10 plays a week,” she explained. “This year we received 38 plays on the last day!” Every play is read and rated and the volunteer judges compile a list of their favorites. Based on that, 12 to 14 of the plays will be given oral readings in a marathon Saturday session at the Playhouse later this month, attended by Weathervane “regulars” as well as others active in Akron’s theatrical scene. From that meeting, the eight finalist plays are chosen and will then be announced at the beginning of June.
Those eight finalist plays will be performed at the 8x10 Theatrefest, which this year will be held July 10 to 12 at the Playhouse. Audience members at these performances will vote for their favorites and the playwrights will be awarded cash prizes for 1st Place ($350), 2nd Place ($250), 3rd Place and runners-up ($50 each).
This is the fifth annual 8x10 TheatreFest event, which began as a joint venture between Weathervane and Moushey, one of its longtime volunteers and directors — and a playwright herself. Her interactive mystery scripts, marketed through her company, Mysteries by Moushey, Inc., have been performed by over 1,500 theatres and schools. She is also a two-time regional Emmy Award winner for scripts written for educational programming produced by WNEO/WEAO Channels 45/49.
“Weathervane has many, many excellent programs and classes for children, teens and adults, but there was little to do with play writing, at least in an ongoing way. I had noticed, as a member of the Dramatists Guild and other professional associations, that more and more play contests were being held, particularly for short form plays. I did some research, including entering several competitions, and learned what to do — and what NOT to do!” She presented a proposal to the Playhouse management and staff and the 8x10 TheatreFest was born.
One twist in Weathervane’s contest is the use of a special prop, which must be featured in each of the entries. “It’s not a gimmick” says Moushey, “it’s an inspiration!” This year’s “inspiration” is a vintage, rather tarnished, silver hand mirror. The audience members for each 8x10 TheatreFest, besides choosing the top plays, also pick the special prop for the following year’s contest.
The fifth annual 8x10 TheatreFest, besides growing in playwright participation, also marks Moushey’s last year at the helm. Weathervane’s Artistic Director, Melanie Pepe, will take over as coordinator of the 8x10 TheatreFest for its sixth outing in 2016. Moushey remembers, “It was my baby at the beginning, but I never planned on running it indefinitely, and I am thrilled that the Playhouse will continue to produce it, and I am especially happy that Melanie is the one who will be running it.”
Weathervane Playhouse’s 8x10 TheatreFest will present all eight finalist plays at each of the festival’s three performances: Friday, July 10 at 8 p.m, Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 12 at 2:30 pm. The Sunday matinee will be followed by a reception and the announcement of the winners. Tickets are $10. For tickets, call the Weathervane Playhouse Box Office at 330-836-2626 or CLICK HERE to buy tickets online.
Weathervane Playhouse’s 8x10 Theatrefest is made possible, in part, by the generosity of Frank C. Communale.