Eureka’s Five & Dime Drama Collective was established in 2016 to bring performance art to the stage in the form of five 10-minute plays written by local playwrights. Performances in 2016 and 2017 were so successful that this year the Collective made a huge leap to opening up slots in the performances to playwrights from around the world.
The group received 360 micro play submissions, each read by Executive Creative Director-Producer Kenn Woodard, Executive Producer Tom Gorsuch, and Executive Director Larry Horn. Local playwrights were selected for two, four were from playwrights elsewhere in the U.S. and one was an American aid worker from Ethiopia.
“The Five & Dime Drama Collective was the genesis for Eurekans to experience world premier plays that are visionary, edgy and relevant,” Woodard said. “Because that foundation was built, we could then expand this year to open ourselves up to several websites and resources that would give us a wider reach for submissions. In doing so we were humbled and overwhelmed by the 360 submissions presented from over two hundred playwrights.”
They also did a free workshop at the Dairy Hollow Writers’ Colony showing the dynamics of how to create a ten-minute play.
“From that resource and availability, we encouraged local playwrights to submit,” Woodard said. “So, two local playwrights submitted scripts that rose on merit alone and were selected from the 360 plays submitted.”
This year the seven plays have seven different directors, and sponsors who have underwritten each play allowing the Collective to advertise and have a Gala Event at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.
Each director is choosing a work by a local artist to represent their play, and Woodard said the event is intended to encourage visual artists while raising funds for the Collective. A portion of the proceeds will go to Main Stage Creative Community Center.
There is a challenge finding enough volunteer actors, stagehands and directors in a small town to put on seven plays. “But we were lucky enough this year to have more than fifty cast and crew who have committed months of their personal volunteer time with the support of amazing underwriters, who are businesses in the community, that have made this vision possible,” Woodard said.
Woodard is responsible for the overall show. He considers it exceptional that the small-town performance group has now expanded to have a global voice.
Executive Producer Ann Hopkins said there are many aspects of this year’s production that are significantly different – “new and improved!” – from their previous shows.
“The worldwide script solicitation was one, but Kenn has also brought in a wide array of very talented people to enhance everything from set design to costumes, lighting, sound, etc.,” Hopkins said. “It’s been both gratifying and exciting to watch Five & Dime blossom from humble beginnings only two years ago.”
Executive Producer Tom Gorsuch said every year since beginning they have worked to raise the bar and try to put on even better performances.
“This year will be a quantum leap in the artistic and intellectual content,” Gorsuch said. “We are gaining recognition in the Northwest Arkansas area. Eureka Springs is a hotbed for theater. The first play being produced is by an American author working for an aid group in Ethiopia. One of our plays, Until the Earth Breaks Open, is a social justice piece performed as a lyric poem involving movement and dialogue.”
Gorsuch has been involved with theater since college.
“I just love this creative process,” he said. “It is extremely energizing to be involved with so many really smart and creative people. This fall it is so eclectic. We have some plays that are very literal and others that are highly metaphorical. Some are tragedies. Some are comedies. This is clearly our most ambitious production to date. We are doubling the number performances at Main Stage this year to four.”
The Fall Performance series, Multiverse, will be held Oct. 11-14 at the Main Stage Theater downtown. Tickets can be purchased through the website www.fiveanddimedramacollective.org. Seating is limited and, in the past, they have sold out early. Performances are intended for mature audiences.