10 by 10

Roughly a third of the plays at this year's upcoming Ten by Ten showcase are about Hurricane Ike. The credit - or blame - for that can go in large part to Fernando Dovalina, who took up playwriting in earnest when he retired from the Houston Chronicle a few years ago. He hosts informal gatherings at his home among his playwright friends. They read and critique their work, and usually Dovalina picks a theme. "One year it was 'strong women,' and one time it was about 'summer,'" he says. As the anniversary of Hurricane Ike was coming up, that seemed a natural choice for this year's theme.

The ten-minute-play format is an excellent way for someone who doesn't want to sit through a two- or three-hour production to take in theater. For instance, a theater-goer not interested in Dovalina's Water Line, about a bickering couple, a Galveston bartender and a jaded Chronicle reporter assigned to one more hurricane-anniversary piece, only has to experience it for 10 minutes. Something else will come along, such as The Great Storm by Aaron Alon, who has five characters speaking in monologues about their experiences during Ike, or Eric James's Night 4, which takes the humorous route with a couple with nothing else to do but talk to each other after Ike hits.

But again, it isn't all hurricanes. Joe Barnes offers a truly black comedy in Quality Time, with a main character that'll "do anything it takes to earn his father's respect - even if it means using a hammer and four-inch nails." 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Country Playhouse, 12802 Queensbury Lane. For information, call 713-467-4497 or visit www.countryplayhouse.org. $12 to $15.
Aug. 27-29, 2010


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