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Ten minutes may not seem like a lot of time. But you’d be surprised just how much a playwright can do in that one-sixth of an hour. If you’d like to find out, don’t miss this month’s play tournament in Park Slope.

On top of what used to be the old pool at Brooklyn’s Public Bath No. 7, now the Brooklyn Lyceum, four plays will sink or swim as they compete July 26 in a 10-minute-play tournament titled "SwampKing."

The competition will be fierce, as four new contestants attempt to emerge victorious from the tournament hosted by Wendy Richmond.

"We put out the call for plays in ’Backstage,’ over the Internet and by e-mail," said Eric Richmond, director and owner of the Lyceum. "We get comedies, dramas, musicals and really weird one-man show pieces. They really run the gamut." The tournaments are presented about once a month.

Most of the July 26 playwrights hail from Brooklyn. But Kristina O’Neal, author of "Girls with Glasses," lives just across the river in Manhattan.

O’Neal, a 32-year-old actress, says her play is about "two women who have a chat about the pitfalls of Internet dating."

Goldie (O’Neal) is a "know-it-all rich girl who gets everything she wants." And Eunice (Simone Lutz) is a "sweet, sensitive soul who wears her heart on her sleeve."

Although she’s been married for three years, O’Neal says the play is "sort of based on personal experience."

And as for her husband, he’s a director she did not meet through the Internet.

O’Neal, who’s been writing since she took a high school playwriting course at 17, says "Girls with Glasses" is just one scene from a play "I’ve been writing for the last 10 years."

In fact, O’Neal’s approach to playwriting is nothing if not leisurely.

"When the play is finished, it will finish itself," she says nonchalantly.

Other plays include "Mrs. Cicatelli Cops a Casket," by Denis Meadows; "The Mona Lisa Approximat­ely," by Charlotte Winters; and "Death By Misadventure," by Judd Lear Silverman - all Brooklyn playwrights.

Silverman says "Death By Misadventure" is a "twisted little play" based on a true incident that happened in London’s Hyde Park three years ago.

At that time, it was reported that two women died after they were struck by lightning - the underwires on their bras having served as lightning rods. The coroner ruled their demise "death by misadventure," thus giving Silverman his title.

Three other events, all occurring at about the same time, also profoundly influenced the playwright.

Golfer Payne Stewart died on his way to a tournament when the pressure in his private jet decompressed, and the jet, as reported by its black box, flew pilotless for several hours before it ran out of gas and crashed.

An Egyptian aircraft dived earthward while the black box recorded the pilot’s final prayers, leading many to suspect a suicide and mass murder.

And the TV show "Dateline" aired a program about automobile accidents and the possibility of putting black boxes in private cars.

"All this [talk of black boxes] led me to wonder what the two women could have been talking about before this bizarre accident," said Silverman. "I also added an announcer who comments on the women’s statements."

The playwright says his play is a "meditation on why things happen the way they do" and asks such imponderables as, "Is there a randomness or a specific plan to fate?"

Silverman, who has lived in Park Slope since 1979, calls the Lyceum "a neat space."

"I’m a member of the community," he told GO Brooklyn. "I thought this would be a great deal of fun. I think it’s wonderful to have the Lyceum right in the neighborhood."

In addition to the joy of winning, playwrights who impress Richmond may be invited back to present longer works.

GO Brooklyn wishes all the playwrights good luck. And may the best play win!


"SwampKing: The 10-Minute Play Tournament" with special musical guest Kelly Zullo, will be presented at 10 pm, on July 26, at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Ave. at President Street in Park Slope. Tickets are $12. For more information, call (718) 857-4816.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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