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Although Pierre Loving published a book of "ten minute plays" in 1923 (this anthology included pieces by such notable playwrights as Arthur Schnitzler, Ferenc Molnar and August Strindberg), the “official debut” of the 10-minute play as a genre is usually traced back to the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 1977 Humana Festival of New American Plays. What began there as a quirky exercise in “Polaroid playwriting” has since evolved into nothing short of a theatrical phenomenon—an exciting and powerful new format that has altered the theatrical landscape with its possibilities. 10-minute plays are no longer a fad. They are a legitimate form of theatre that has proven highly popular with audiences around the world. Many of the most prominent playwrights of the modern Theatre have tried their hand at the ten-minute play, including David Mamet, Christopher Durang, Craig Lucas, Tony Kushner, David Ives, August Wilson, and many others. The natural time constraint imposed by the form has in no way limited the power of the genre—on the contrary, it enhances it, forcing playwrights to get the story moving quickly and keep dramatic action tight, encouraging actors to showcase their talents by playing multiple roles, and allowing audiences to enjoy a broad spectrum of theatre in one sitting—a theatre buffet, so to speak.

A popular anthology of 10-minute plays describes the genre this way: “A ten-minute play is a streak of theatrical lightning. It doesn't last long, but its power can stand your hair on end.”

There are many 10-minute play scripts available online. Some of the finest include:

Purchase 10-Minute Play Anthology or 10-Minute Play Anthology: Volume II