More than two-dozen characters in 15 short plays, all set on one bench.

The set for Kenneth Jones’ new comedy, Ten Minutes On a Bench, couldn’t be simpler: It’s a park bench. In the 15-scene play, that bench becomes a perch for more than 30 characters who are seeking a love match through the titular dating app that geolocates nearby outdoor seating for speed-dating opportunities.

The play had its first development in February 2024 in a staged reading process by Ground Up Productions in New York City. (That version featured a cast of 12.) It also appeared in Florida Repertory Theatre’s 2024 PlayLab Festival of New Works May 3 in Ft. Myers, FL, where it was heard in a six-actor version. Following revisions, including the addition of new scenes, Ground UP will give it a fresh reading in Manhattan on June 24, 2024, with a cast of eight (4M, 4W). It’s available for further development and for licensing to theater companies looking for comedies with heart, humanity and variety.

In the two-act play, would-be lovers populate unconnected scenes, offering 4 to 30 performers the chance to play a range of ages, genders, urges and hurts. It’s a climb, but in theory a small cast of four — two male-identifying people and two female-identifying people — can tackle quick changes and multiple roles. But expanded casting options can make a production burst with more variety. The sweet spot of minimal casting is eight performers, allowing for a range of pairs reading 20s/30s, 30s/40s, 40s/50s and 60s/70s. (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.) Characters and scenes were later added for the Florida reading and the June Manhattan reading.

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 a draft of the script 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.

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.