Key art for the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company’s presentation of “Ten Minutes on a Bench.”

Ten Minutes on a Bench, a new comedy about series of first dates arranged through a fictional app that places potential partners on a park bench to meet for a restricted amount of time, gets its first public presentation Sept. 30, 2023, in an outdoor concert reading by the acclaimed University of Detroit Mercy’s Theatre Company. The 11-scene play by Kenneth Jones was completed during the pandemic and offers roles for as few as four actors and as many as 22.

“I didn’t specifically write this as a pandemic-era social-distancing experience, with characters outdoors and getting some space between,” Jones said. “I wrote a couple of ten-minute encounters about people seeking connection. That need is universal, and was more intense during the worst years of the pandemic, 2020-22. And then I just kept writing more. I wanted to meet new characters and see what chemistry was there.”

The only scenic requirement for the play is a park bench. An excerpt of the script is available at New Play Exchange. If you want a full perusal copy of the script, request one from the playwright. The play is available for licensing and development opportunities.

The UDM Theatre Company cast features alumni of the theater program, and is directed by alumnus David Leidholdt, former producing artistic director of Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania. The six-actor company (tackling multiple roles) features Pat Caporuscio, Emily Haase, Maggie Lorenzetti, Annalise Udell, Jordan Collyer and David Leidholdt. The hourlong presentation is an abridged version of the 90-minute script.

Here’s how Ten Minutes on a Bench is billed: “Ah, look at all the lonely people! Some of them — as many as 22 characters, in 11 unconnected scenes — are hoping to find romance on the latest dating app, ‘Ten Minutes on a Bench,’ which invites hopeful singles to a brief encounter on a park bench. Their time together may be short, but there is no limit to the variety of quirky, heartbreaking, funny and sophisticated people looking for love. Fall head over heels for a refreshing new comedy about conversation, compatibility and connection. Sometimes, it only takes ten minutes to find your match.”

“I wanted to write a variety of characters, ages and genders on the universal topics of sex, connection, chemistry, compatibility, companionship and love,” Jones said. “There is something for everyone here.”

He added, “As the play gets future development in regional theaters, I expect that some of these ‘ten minute plays’ will be a swapped out in favor of new ones. There is no end to the possibilities. That’s what’s sometimes maddening and wonderful about the dating pool.”

The 6 PM presentation at the Outdoor Stage of the Student Union is part of UDM’s 2023 Homecoming Celebration in Detroit. The respected UDM Theatre Company, which traditionally has mixed undergrad and professional artists, previously presented the Michigan premiere of Kenneth Jones’ acclaimed drama Alabama Story, about book-banning, Civil Rights and American character.

Kenneth Jones’ six-actor comedy Hollywood, Nebraska — about two actresses returning to their hometown for separate family emergencies — had a three-theater rolling world premiere in the 2022-23 season. Want a perusal copy? It’s now licensable directly through the author.

Learn more about the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company.