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Work of Prof. Chris White Among The Best Ten-Minute Plays

Work of Prof. Chris White Among The Best Ten-Minute Plays

August 8, 2012

A short play by Chris White, associate professor of English at DePauw University, is included in a newly-published anthology, The Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2011. Released by Smith and Kraus, the title presents "the best 10-minute plays produced during the 2010-2011 theatrical season ... in one essential book," according to a synopsis.

Professor White's play, Thespian, is among the works in the book. A short description of the play notes, "When a Brooklyn construction worker decides to audition for a play, his best buddy helps him beef up his resume with some on-the-job training on the subway into Manhattan."

"While living in Brooklyn with my children and attending graduate school at NYU (in dramatic writing), I rode the subway nearly every day," White says. "Moments of drama -– both subtle and blatant –- happened there ceaselessly. And it seemed a sacred place to me, where humanity, with its weaknesses, its cravings, it aspirations, and its courage, could be humbly observed, seat after seat, car after car. It seemed a place where we were all created equal. Where investment bankers, homeless people, actors, teenagers, children, old people, theatre-goers, drug dealers, nurses, small business owners, construction workers, divorcees and activists met for a few minutes a day, on their way to other places where they would separate, once again, into their own exclusive niches. These moments of coming together could not be avoided."

She continues, "The seed of my short play was planted in me on the subway during that time. What I saw on that particular day on the subway bench some ten feet away from me, were a youngish man and woman engaged in some kind of banter which I couldn’t hear. I wasn’t sure whether they were lovers, brother and sister, friends, co-workers… But I was intrigued by the fact that along with this playful, yet intense, banter, came an occasional slap in the face! More like a clip than a full out blow. I watched their camaraderie, their humor, their intimacy, their authenticity, and I’d never seen anything quite like it; simultaneously, they were utterly familiar to me."

According to the professor, "In the play, I’m trying to capture the feeling I get from both the great equalizer that is the subway and the great equalizer that is good theatre. From both of these comes the same wisdom: our similarities LGL7205(isolation, vulnerability, longing, loyalty…) are far greater than our differences. Armed with that awareness, we can do anything. Plus, at the end of the day, we can all use a good laugh."

Thespian premiered at Bloomington (Indiana) Playwrights Project in 2010 and has since been produced at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Learn more about The Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2011 at the publisher's website or Amazon.com.

Chris White is also the subject of this previous story.