Play asks what an appointment with death would be like

Illustration of fog and clocks

What would an appointment with death look like? Is it like taking a number and standing in line at the DMV, meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates or something else?

Jennifer Chaney, a UO theater arts student and undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, presents one possible scenario in “The Appointment,” one of eight plays selected for Oregon Contemporary Theatre’s 12th annual Northwest 10-Minute Play Festival, “Oh, Boise!”

The play centers on a 14-year-old girl who, following her untimely accidental death, finds herself in an intake room of sorts, awaiting her appointment to the next dimension, whatever that is. Chaney describes it as social science fiction.

“I would equate it to something you might see on the ‘Twilight Zone,” she said. “It’s set in another dimension and it’s just imagining what might happen there.”

She came up with the concept in a playwriting class with associate professor of theater arts Michael Najjar, who Chaney said encouraged her to submit her work. It was selected from among 80 submissions from around the Northwest.

Although the script was originally written as a standard-length play, the condensed 10-minute format of the festival allows audiences to explore a range of topics covering everything from motherhood at the playground to dealing with a parent in an assisted living home to Cheney’s play about unfinished business.

“It’s like picking up a magazine and reading several articles on different topics or reading a book of essays,” she said. “And for our current short attention span, I think it’s perfect.”

After working in community theater for many years, last year at age 50 Chaney decided to return to the UO to enhance her knowledge of theater.

“My goal is to go on to graduate school, because why not?” she said. “I’m blessed that I can do what I love — playwriting, directing, being an actor, producing — anything I can do to be part of the theater process is exciting.”

“NW10: Oh Boise!” Is free to watch online. Viewers can catch “The Appointment” and the other seven featured festival plays August 27-30 via Oregon Contemporary Theater’s YouTube channel.

—By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications