10-Minute Play Festival Program

Performance Details

The Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) 
and the
Graduate Researchers in Media and Performing Arts (GRMPA)
10-Minute Play Festival
Produced by Zhen Cheng and Arin Sheehan '22

October 8, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
October 9, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.
October 10, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Reserve your free ticket at schwartztickets.com. A link will be emailed to you 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Note from the Chair

Dear community members,

In a more typical year, you would be reading this note in a physical program while gathering in a public space. As you well know, there is nothing typical about this year, and so this note must also depart from the conventions that have tended to govern it in the past. Ordinarily I might describe particular projects with confidence that they would materialize in ways of which we could be basically certain. But not now; the very digital program in which this note appears could change before the end of the semester—and could change even more dramatically for the coming spring.

Indeed, what we were intending as a year’s worth of programming in our immediately prior spring has already been radically reimagined. I am proud of students, staff, and faculty who have responded with inventiveness and imagination to making virtual work in socially distanced ways. I am proud that the majority of this work is centering perspectives on systemic racism and white supremacist ideology, of which the Department of Performing and Media Arts must take urgent stock, for which we must be accountable, and whose dismantling we must actively undertake. I am proud that numerous BIPOC guest artists and scholars will visit classes and make public presentations via Zoom. And I am proud that all of this activity is free to our publics, who now more than ever need access to art and intellection that we hope will sustain us through the anxieties and exhaustions of our current political and historical circumstances.

I look forward to a time when we may all convene again in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts and communally enjoy film, dance, theater, performance art, installation, public lectures, and more. In the meantime, I wish everyone reading this note physical health and emotional and spiritual well-being.

Nick Salvato

10-Minute Play Summaries

Spirit Call by Quinn Theobald '22

To earn a living, spirit callers let ghosts possess their bodies and chat with their living family. When one dead abrasive mother is summoned, both the callers and the clients consider what it is they are missing in life.

Parenting Tips by Phillip Teixeira DaSilva '22

Parenting Tips provides a glimpse into the lives of new parents Beatrice and Susan Fraser as they desperately hunt for the solution to parenting. A cookbook explains exactly how to cook a casserole, so a parenting guide must explain exactly how to parent a baby, right!?

Across the Mississippi by Anna Evtushenko

A woman alone on New Year's Eve grapples with her past. Please be advised that “Across the Mississippi” includes a depiction of death. Contact pma@cornell.edu for more information about potentially triggering material.
(Special thanks to Aaran Leviton, Avi Appel, Vitaly Vavrinyuk, and Steven Blasberg.)  

Night Comes for the North Country by John Colie '23

Two travelers wander through a desolate landscape in search of something they have forgotten. A chronicler attempts to retell a story she is not sure she remembers correctly. Each lacking something, they look to each other when nothing else seems worthwhile anymore.

Jodeci for White Girls by Kristen Wright

Lily Graham is a struggling 1990s singer-songwriter who is given the opportunity of a lifetime: to form a boy band and become a star. Inspired by the story of *NSYNC, Jodeci for White Girls is an exploration of Y2K teen pop stardom and the Black genius behind it.

Company Profiles

Kenny Aune (Sam, Spirit Call) is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in performing and media arts. He has eight years of tap dance experience and has performed in multiple community theatre/high school productions back home, his favorite roles including Don Lockwood in Singing in the Rain and the Prince in Into the Woods. He is excited to join the PMA community at Cornell and hopes you enjoy the show.

Samuel Blake (Dramaturg, Across the Mississippi & Parenting Tips) is a PhD candidate in PMA. He has participated in three of the past four 10MPFs, once as a producer and twice as a director. Sam’s additional Ithaca work includes: An Evening at the Caffe Cino (PMA, director), Two Truths and Allie (PMA, director), What Happens Next? (Cherry Arts, dramaturg). Beyond Ithaca, he has worked professionally in Austin, Chicago, and Michigan.

McKee Bond (Peter, Across the Mississippi) is a sophomore in the Hotel School at Cornell. Bond was born on the island of Bermuda and lived there for six years until his family relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McKee acted in plays throughout middle and high school, playing roles like Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit the Wind, and Thénardier in Les Misérables. McKee also played a supporting role in a feature film released in 2018. Upon graduation, McKee intends to pursue acting full-time in Los Angeles.

Allison Borton (Joan Kowalski, Jodeci for White Girls) is a sophomore computer science major in the College of Engineering. She is currently taking her second acting class at Cornell. She has been involved with the Shakespeare Troupe at Cornell for a year now and was in their production of Othello (Fall 2019), and also was part of rehearsals for As You Like It (Spring 2020). She also acted in Footsteps, a short play that was part of Cog Dog Theatre Troupe's Spring 2020 productions.

Zhen Cheng (Producer) is a PhD student in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. She has worked as a freelancing theater artist in China. She is very excited about producing this year's 10-Minute Play Festival in an unprecedented online format.

John Colie (Writer, Night Comes for the North Country) is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in some indeterminate form of the humanities. While he did act somewhat extensively in high school, Night Comes for the North Country is his first produced written work for the stage as well as his first collaboration with the Department of Performing and Media Arts as a whole. He is thankful for the opportunity to participate in the festival and hopes to be able to write more in the future.

Andrew Colpitts (Director, Parenting Tips) is a first-year PhD student in Performing and Media Arts. He trained at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq and graduated with a BA in theatre arts and performance studies from Brown University. His scholarly interests include popular performance styles, rural spectatorship, and queer meaning-making. He is a puppeteer, playwright, and burlesque dancer.

Abbey Crowley (Susan, Parenting Tips) is a junior at Cornell University from Columbus, Georgia, pursuing a major in performing and media arts and minors in education and inequality studies. She has been seen in The Awakening of Spring (Thea and Professor Sheeplove), Tartuffe (Mariane), The Last Five Years (Cathy), The Nether (Iris), and five Festival24s since arriving at Cornell. Abbey happily serves as the vice president of Cornell Ambassadors for Media and Performance (CAMP) as well as the president of Melodramatics Theatre Company. Abbey is thankful for this opportunity to do what she loves and hopes that you enjoy the show!

Phillip Teixeira DaSilva (Writer, Parenting Tips) is a food science and applied economics and management double major who dabbles in theater from time to time. He played the role of Scoop the spoon in The Superior Ice Cream for 10MPF last year. This year, Phillip is back with 10MPF as a playwright debuting the first play he has ever written, Parenting Tips. Outside of performing arts, Phillip is on the Cornell MARS & IFTSA Product Development Team, a Food Marketing Fellow, and a guide for the Outdoor Odyssey pre-orientation program. In his free time, he enjoys experimenting with recipes in the kitchen, hiking with his dog Moose, cross-country skiing, and singing songs by Cher while no one is watching.

Sahara Ellis (Lily, Jodeci for White Girls) is a junior communication major and is excited to join a Cornell PMA Department production with the 10-Minute Play Festival. Sahara has worked in numerous high school and local theatrical productions in her hometown and gained valuable skills from taking several Cornell PMA acting and theatre courses. Sahara is eager to combine her previous training and her passions for music/dance for her performance in Jodeci for White Girls!

Katherine Ellsworth (Jim, Spirit Call) is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. She is majoring in biology with a concentration in genetics, and a minor in theatre. She was in several productions at her high school (including Che in Evita and Olive in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Festival24 this semester, but this will be her first full production at Cornell!

Anna Evtushenko (Director/Writer, Across the Mississippi) is originally from Russia and is a graduate student at Cornell University. She studies how large numbers of people behave online, a nice counterpart to exploring the lives of just a few characters in her plays.

Ali Franz (Actor, Night Comes for the North Country) is a third-year law student with a BS in human development from Cornell. She is excited to finally participate in her first PMA production after being in Ithaca for almost seven years.

Duoer Jia (Actor, Night Comes for the North Country) is a senior double majoring in information science and PMA. Previously she has acted in The Wolves as #00, assistant directed Spill, and directed Rumors. She has also participated in two iterations of Festival24 as an actor and one as a director. This is her online acting debut. She is very grateful for the cast, crew, and production team to make this project possible. She hopes everyone stays safe and positive during this uncertain time.

Caitlin Kane (Director, Night Comes for the North Country) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Performing and Media Arts where her research focuses on the ethics and politics of research-based performance. At Cornell, she has directed and co-directed multiple productions, including Spill (2019), The Loneliness Project (2018), Climates of Change (2017), and several ten-minute plays. She continues to work as a freelance director and dramaturg based in Chicago.

Khalfani Louis (Todd Taylor, Jodeci for White Girls) is extremely proud to be back performing in the 10-Minute Play Festival! His first time performing in 10MPF was last year as The Actor in Kristen Wright’s Jamal from Empire. He is ecstatic to be working with her again! This past summer, he made his professional debut as Count Paris in the Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He also played Cinesias in the Evergreen Theatre Collective’s production of Lysistrata. As an undergrad, Khalfani was active in the PMA department with roles in Habla/Speak as Open Mic Performer/Grandpa, Spill as Bob Bea/Narrator/Randy Ezell/Dealer, There for You: A New Musical as Nick O’Brian, and numerous student films. Khalfani, hailing from Long Island, NY, is a recent graduate of Cornell University. He is fluent in Haitian Creole and French. He enjoys reading, exercising, and taking long walks in nature. Khalfani would like to extend a huge thanks to his family, friends, and to everyone in attendance. Please stay healthy and safe in these tumultuous times. 

Sara Pistono (Nasha, Spirit Call), a senior PMA and psychology double major, is ecstatic to be taking part in this festival. Her previous acting credits include Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play, The Awakening of Spring, Spill, and The Wolves. Although she’s taken part in a previous 10-Minute Play Festival as a producer, this will be her first time acting in this annual event. She hopes you enjoy the show!

Kelly Richmond (Director/Dramaturg, Jodeci for White Girls) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. This is her fourth year participating in the 10-Minute Play Festival. She is grateful to all the incredible students and staff who have worked so hard to keep the festival going in this time of crisis.

Cole Romero (Director, Spirit Call) is a junior majoring in PMA and English with a minor in creative writing. They have been involved in many productions, such as Festival24 as an actor and a director, acting for Cog Dog Theatre Troupe at Risley Theater, and co-directing There for You: A New Musical, and many more. They are hoping to graduate with honors and move to one of the big cities to find work as a creative. Cole thanks you and hopes you enjoy the show!

Arin Sheehan (Producer and Beatrice, Parenting Tips) is a junior in AEM studying marketing and strategy, with a minor in PMA. On campus she is the producer of Festival24 and co-producer of the Melodramatics Theater Company. She is also the author of a book titled Marketing Broadway. Her previous credits include the 2018 10-Minute Play Festival (Woman #2) and The Wolves (#2).

Quinn Theobald (Writer, Spirit Call) is a junior in Arts & Sciences studying information science. He’s been involved in theatre all his life, from a homeschool Shakespeare troupe to performing with Titan Theatre Company at the Queen’s Theatre. Since coming to Cornell he’s transitioned more to the writing side of theatre. Last year, he won the Heermans-McCalmon award for stage plays. This is his second time writing for the 10-Minute Play Festival, and he is very excited to see how creativity conquers this year’s unusual challenges.

Dr. Kristen Wright (Writer, Jodeci for White Girls) is a postdoctoral associate in the Humanities Scholars Program at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities. She previously earned a PhD and MA in Africana Studies from Cornell University, an MA in African-American Studies from Columbia University, and a BA in Theater Studies and Political Science from Yale University. Dr. Wright is also a playwright and dramaturg, and her plays Apple Core, Miss Anne, The Shirt (Civility), and Jamal from Empire were previously produced as a part of Cornell's 10-Minute Play Festival.

Ezgi Yilmaz (Actor, Night Comes for the North Country) is a freshman student at the Dyson School majoring in Applied Economics and Management. After dancing in a school musical once, she joined a theatre club in high school where she developed skills of not only acting, but also leading and managing for three years. She had various roles in three plays such as Nino in Momo, one of the witches in Macbeth, and Polly in Threepenny Opera. Working more on physical theatre besides acting techniques, she once participated in a short physical theatre play. She also joined two workshops in a theatre school in Turkey: one was on improvisation and the other one was about contemporary dance. Interested in the intersection of movement and expression, she wants to learn more about lyrical and contemporary dance as well as physical and political theater.