Hal Harmon and Den-Nickolas Smith of the Emerald Theatre Company (ETC) asked Caroline Sposto to direct a fall production. She had other ideas. Instead, she sent out a call for plays with the writing prompt: "Closets are good for storage ... They also make great hiding places. Sock it to us in 10-minutes or less."
ETC received 42 scripts, eight of which hit the stage this weekend as part of Out of the Closet.
Each play has its own director, and there are about 20 actors participating. "To my delight and astonishment, we got more and better talent than I ever imagined," Sposto says. Counted among that talent are Jo Lynne Palmer, Ron Gephart, Justin Willingham, and Mimmye Goode.
The set is a simple closet door on castors that must do for a variety of takes on the "closet" theme. ("Nobody took the closet literally," Sposto says.) The works involve a baggage carousel, suburbia, a psychic, mobsters, a high school reunion, and a tourist attraction.
Sposto says that in picking the scripts, they weren't looking for a balance of genres — two comedies and two dramas, for example. Instead, they were seeking quality. Did it feel satisfying? Were the characters relatable? Is the story worth telling?
The 10-minute time frame has its demands. "Every word, everything that happens — nothing can be extraneous," Sposto says. "They have to hit the ground running, and they do."