Theatre Odyssey began with a series of discussions among members of the cast of METAMORPHOSES, the 2005 National-award-winning production of the Manatee Players. Those discussions centered on creating a local theatre company that could work in multiple venues, encourage and perform new works, and pay all participants through revenue sharing.
In December of 2005, Tom Aposporos and Larry Hamm, two members of that award-winning cast, met with a local playwright (also a practicing attorney) who wished to have his play, a full-length work in progress, read by skilled actors in a formal setting in front of an audience. The success of that effort inspired the creation of something new, and admittedly different–a festival of fully produced ten-minute plays solicited from local writers. A best play would be selected and a monetary award would be given to the playwright. In January 2006, Theatre Odyssey became a legal entity and produced its first Ten-Minute Play Festival a few months later.
The rules first developed in 2006 are largely still in use today. The play selection process begins with qualified readers, who remain anonymous so as not to be influenced by a writer’s identity. An independent scoring system using a uniform matrix guides the readers in choosing the most worthy plays for production. Three highly respected judges choose the best play each year at the annual festival.
The quality of the plays submitted by local playwrights became evident in 2008 when noted New York publishing house Smith and Kraus announced that two plays each by Sylvia Reed (AMERICAN FLAG and WORKS IN PROGRESS) and Larry Hamm (DO-OVERS and PRECONCEPTION) would be included in Smith and Kraus’ BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAY series.
In 2013, the company created a Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival to encourage emerging playwrights from local middle and high schools. That initial festival was in January 2013 and became a new annual event for Theatre Odyssey. Its play selection process and production values follow those of the Ten-Minute Play Festival.
Theatre Odyssey has published the produced plays in a two volume set; Volume One: 2006 to 2009 and Volume Two: 2010 to 2013.
An unpaid Board of Directors operates the company on a day-to-day basis. Theatre Odyssey is a non-profit 501(c) (3) company and contributions to it are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.