Odyssey Theater stimulates the metamorphosis of the playwright Arts and entertainment

Connie Schindwulf does not intend to take the same advice she gave her students.

Schindwulf, a drama teacher for 25 years, enjoys a productive second act in her life as a playwright, and she concludes that a lot of writing advice is bad advice.

The playwright has written more than 50 ten-minute plays and eight full-length plays in the last 15 years and owes his transformation in part to a local organization. Schindwulf said she gained strength and confidence from her participation in the Ten-Minute Odyssey Theater Festival, which will celebrate its 17th iteration next week.

“They did my first performance of a 10-minute play in 2007,” says Schindwulf. “It really gave me the courage to send my work. So I sent in, I started sending in my work, and I had a lot of success, mostly with 10-minute plays. “

The playwright says she has had 10-minute plays produced in 26 states, and her works have been performed in such remote places as London, Dubai and Australia.

And the strange thing, she says, is that she could never find time to write as a drama teacher in St. Louis.

“Teachers had summer weekends, and I spent most of the summer reading screenplays looking for something to direct or looking for something for my students to direct,” she said. “I read so many plays that I thought, ‘Wow, some of this is just rubbish.’ I can write better than that. That was my goal for a long time before I started. And when I look back, I think, “You know what? If I wanted to do it so hard, I just had to take the time.

Schindewolf’s latest play, “Ancestry”, is one of eight plays to be staged at the Ten-Minute Odyssey Theater Festival, and it won the festival’s Best Play Award twice. When she looks back at the things she taught her students, she says she’s not sure she really benefits from trying to impose a playwright structure.

“I don’t really teach plays now and I don’t want to do that,” she said. “I just have the feeling that this is not an art that you can impose rules on and ask people to follow. For example, I read this in a book and told my students, “Don’t try to write a serious 10-minute play because there just isn’t enough time for the audience to develop empathy for the character.”

“The first time I gave this rule, several students challenged it and broke the rule, and they wrote wonderful plays. I don’t follow the rules I learned because I don’t think they are good. “

The ten-minute festival is open to writers from all over Florida, but the Odyssey Theater has done an impressive job of attracting local candidates.

One of the festival’s screenwriters lives in Lakeland, and two have been transplanted to Sarasota or Bradenton.

Schindwolf says she knows two local playwrights, Lyle Landon and Keith Whelan, from her group of playwrights in Sarasota. Tom Aposporos, co-founder and honorary director of Theater Odyssey, says the playwright’s quality seems to be improving every year. This year, says Aposporos, there were a record 106 applications for the festival.

“We see in the plays that we attract very good playwrights,” he says. “One of the games we submitted last year was a two-time Obie winner. We believe that playwrights from all over the country should bookmark the Odyssey Theater website. We receive plays sent almost before we invite plays to public. We have been doing this for many years and I like to believe that we have built a reputation for developing quality plays on stage. ”

The first Ten-Minute Play Festival was a sold-out event in 2006. It has now grown to four days and the plays will be performed at the Jane B. Cook Theater.

For Schindewolf, who had 14 plays produced by Theater Odyssey, this became an old hat.

She says it made sense that I would be nervous to watch her production, but because she was so successful with Theater Odyssey, it’s more exciting now.

“You’re not afraid to win, but you want your game to be a good work of art,” she said of the end result. “You are happy to be at the festival because you know it is an achievement. Winning the competition is great when it happens. ”

What makes a good 10-minute game? And how is it different from a feature film?

Schindewolf had time to think about the complexity of writing a play from different points of view and was able to determine it with a little precision.

“A 10-minute game can be the germ of something bigger, but it’s not usually full-length,” she said. “I extended 10 minutes in a one-act play and changed one action to 10 minutes. The full-length plays I write, the difference is that the characters are much more in-depth and have more sub-plots to be developed. But there is certainly a comparison: a 10-minute game has a beginning, a middle and an end, as well as a full-length game.

“Both must have a protagonist who is facing a major conflict. The conflict must be resolved in the end, whether the protagonist gets what he wants or doesn’t get what he wants.”

Most of Schindewolf’s plays are in the fantasy genre, but they start with a little reality. She says she wrote a play, The Fairy of the Joints, because she was besieged and exhausted from cleaning up the entire grout in her house. Her latest play, Ancestry, is based on her daughter’s decision in real life to do a genetic test to learn more about her origins.

The play is a comedy, she says, but she doesn’t want to share too much of the plot. The point, however, is that she took a real episode and turned it into a drama.

“My brain just kept working on what its results would be,” she says. “I can’t remember if I actually dreamed of what they could be, but I had this crazy idea of ​​the results it would get. My poor daughter who goes to these plays and watches them. She knows that most of this is not true, but that I have an idea of ​​something she has been through.

Now that she no longer teaches, does Schindewolf ever hear his students? Of course he does, given the nature of our connected world. In fact, she had a student reappear in an online band called The Playwright’s Marketing Binge.

“One student came back and I recognized his name,” she said. He said: “I don’t think you will remember me, but I was one of your drama students and I made it difficult for you. But I just want you to know that you’ve influenced me, and I’m in New York trying to succeed as an actor and playwright. It kind of struck me. He admitted it, but it must not have been so bad. I remembered it, but I didn’t remember it as particularly difficult in class. “

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