The set for Kenneth Jones’ new comedy, Ten Minutes On a Bench, couldn’t be simpler: It’s a park bench. In the 13-scene play, that bench becomes a perch for 27 characters who are seeking a love match through the titular dating app that geolocates nearby outdoor seating for a speed-dating opportunity.
The play had its first development in February 2024 in a staged reading process by Ground Up Productions in New York City. It’s available for further development and for licensing to theater companies looking for comedies with heart, humanity and variety.
In the play, would-be lovers populate unconnected scenes over the course of 90 minutes, offering 4 to 28 performers the chance to play a range of ages, genders, urges and hurts. A small cast of four — two male-identifying people and two female-identifying people — can tackle quick changes and multiple roles, or any array of expanded casting can make a production burst with more variety. (Future casts should ideally feature a spectrum of ages, body types, abilities, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities and gender identities.)
The Ground UP reading in Manhattan on Feb. 12, 2024, featured six men and six women, from people in their twenties to people in their sixties. (A 28th “character” is the voice of the app, which sets up the rules of the world in a prologue.)
Here’s how the ensemble comedy is billed:
A dating app called Ten Minutes On a Bench is the latest match-making craze, placing singles on a park bench to find common ground. The clock is ticking, but there’s no limit to the variety of quirky, sexy, heartbreaking and humane conversations between a couple dozen characters looking for love. A new salty-sweet romantic comedy about first impressions, dogs and cats, drinkers and smokers, impulse and caution, conversation and chemistry. Laugh, cheer and cringe witnessing the universal urge to connect. Sometimes, it only takes ten minutes.
Want a perusal copy of the script? E-mail playwright Kenneth Jones and ask for an e-copy of the script. Or read an excerpt at New PlayExchange.org.
Scott Alan Evans directed the Ground UP reading of the play in Manhattan. Kate Middleton, artistic director of Ground UP, appeared in a cast that featured Nicholas-Tyler Corbin, Stephen D’Ambrose, Christopher Gerson, Betsy Hogg, Elizabeth Howell, Shirleyann Kaladjian, Barbara Kingsley, John Plumpis, Robert Sella, Peterson Townsend and Kelsey Waltermire. Kodi Lynn Milburn was stage manager.
Read more about Ground UP’s winter 2024 reading series, which features three additional works.
Kenneth Jones is best known for his play Alabama Story (published by Dramatists Play Service), seen in more than 60 cities around the nation. His comedy Hollywood, Nebraska had a three-state rolling world premiere in 2022-23 and is licensed through the author. His other work (check out the three-character Two Henrys) has been produced or developed at Pioneer Theatre Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Clarence Brown Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Peninsula Players, Florida Studio Theatre, Red Mountain Theatre and beyond.