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Small sampling

Today marks the beginning of Niagara University's annual Short Play Festival, a popular program that gives student directors a chance to test their mettle and invites the public to sample the eclectic results.

The festival, which begins its 33rd year in Niagara University's Clet Hall at 7:30 tonight and wraps up on Jan. 30, will feature 19 plays, each of which is no more than 10 minutes long. That fact, said NU theater professor and festival coordinator Doug Zschiegner, should keep even the most discerning audience member thoroughly engaged.

"For the audience, it's a chance to see seven different plays in an evening," Zschiegner said. "It goes from very bold broad comedy to some fairly intellectual and esoteric [material]. If you don't like something, wait five minutes and the next one comes along."

The festival will feature plays by the likes of Christopher Durang ("Funeral Parlor"), Niagara theater program director Gregory Fletcher ("Stairway to Heaven"), Craig Pospisl ("Infant Morality") and others.

"It's one of the greatest educational programs that we do here," Zschiegner said.

Tickets are $7 to $9.99. For more information, call 286-8685 or visit

-- Colin Dabkowski

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