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Take Ten: New 10-Minute Plays Paperback – March 25, 1997
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About the Author
Nina Shengold's plays include Finger Foods, War at Home, Homesteaders, and Romeo/Juliet, and have been produced around the world. Her one-act No Shoulder was filmed by director Suzi Yoonessi, with Melissa Leo and Samantha Sloyan. Nina won a Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden; other teleplays include Blind Spot, with Joanne Woodward and Laura Linney, and Unwed Father. Her books include the novel Clearcut; River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers (with photographer Jennifer May), and a growing posse of pseudonymous books for young readers. A graduate of Wesleyan, she is currently teaching creative writing at Manhattanville College. Nina lives in New York's Hudson Valley, where she has been books editor of Chronogram magazine since 2004.
Top Customer Reviews
This anthology contains 32 plays by a diverse group of authors. Included are some of the most important names in the American theater: Tony Kushner, Christopher Durang, David Mamet, August Wilson, etc. There are also many names that are new to me. The plays cover many different themes: love and heartbreak (both of the gay and straight varieties), violence, crime, sports, phone sex, death, racial politics, etc. There are many different tones and stylistic approaches: tragic, whimsical, surreal, raunchy, etc. The plays include one-character monologues, 2-character pieces, and multi-character pieces.
There are many highlights to this excellent collection. My favorite pieces included the following: David Ives' "The Philadelphia," a witty Twilight Zone-ish comedy; Mary Miller's charming "Ferris Wheel"; Jose Rivera's "Gas," which takes place on the U.S. homefront during the Persian Gulf War; Frederick Stroppel's "Judgment Call," an ironic look into the world of baseball umpires; and Diana Son's "R.A.W. ('Cause I'm a Woman)," a sort of Asian counterpart to Ntozake Shange's "For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf." These are just a few of the many fine pieces in this collection.
I highly recommend "Take Ten" to those with an interest in playwriting, in multicultural studies, or in provocative and experimental literature in general.
This collection has a decent variety. About 30 short plays, dating from the early 80's to the mid-to late 90's. Some of them are monologues, some are funny skits, some are serious, multi-character mini-plays, some are post-modern and *experimental*, some are conventional. (For what it's worth, they're all by Americans as far as I can tell, so it's not that varied.)
There were some I liked quite a bit(in no order):
Flop Cop - Laura Cunningham - Police officer confronts playwright. Clever farce.
R.A.W. Cause I'm a Woman - Diana Son - Four characters doing inter-weaved monologues about their experiences as Asian women.
The Janitor - August Wilson - Short impromptu speech by a custodian in an empty auditorium. Wilson's poetic vernacular.
The Philadelphia - David Ives - Two guys meeting up for lunch in restaurant. Funny, surreal skit.
A Sermon - David Mamet - Somewhat incoherent, raging sermon by crazy, foul mouthed character. (Very Mamet)
Mrs Sorken - Christopher Durang - Humorous, discursive monologue by classic Durang wacko.
There were some I had mixed feelings about, like Shasta Rue by Jane Martin. Interesting character, great vernacular writing, funny lines... But, I found it kind of hard to follow. Good enough that I am going to look into her other work though.
And, finally, there were some I didn't like at all, e.g., Reverse Transcription by Tony Kushner. I've always thought of him as a sophisticated and stylish writer, but also as a pretentious and empty one and this piece reminded me why.
All in all a very good collection. Recommended for theater buffs or people who are curious about late 20th century American theater.