"When you start thinking about 'the best,' you quickly realize it's very subjective," says ArtsCenter Stage's artistic director Jeri Lynn Schulke. She is talking about the selection process for The Best of 10 by 10, a showcase of selections hand-picked from the first nine years of the popular 10-minute play festival.
"When [former artistic directors] Emily Ranii and Lynden Harris and I started kicking around the idea, we found we had to ask what does 'the best' mean—that the play's well written? Is that all we're going to determine it on?"
The trio ultimately developed "a list of what we remembered as the audience's favorites. Not just the funniest, but the ones that got the best response."
The resulting productions mark a return, not only for 10 of the 90 scripts the series has produced since 2002, but for a number of stage artists who've been affiliated with the ArtsCenter over the years. Two plays in the lineup feature the original casts: Eric Swensen and Bard Schnurr reunite for that mean streets tribute to Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Mamet (which Indy theater critics honored among 2009's best original scripts), and Thaddaeus Edwards and Nicole Quenelle reprise 2006's The Idiot's Guide to Classical Music.
"I was interested in going back into the history of ArtsCenter Stage," Schulke notes. "A number of people who have performed and directed here over the years are still active in our theater community; and I think it's important for our organization to bring them back into the fold as best we can, even if it's to direct or act in a 10-minute play. If 2011's 10 by 10 had this brand new crop of faces, we wanted Best of to be more honorific."
Directors including Jerome Davis, Julie Fishell, Joseph Megel and Derrick Ivey return to the ArtsCenter stage, directing an ensemble including John Boni, Greg Hohn, Jillian Holmquist and Jenny Wales. The show runs Fridays through Sundays through July 31. —Byron Woods