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In the ecology of theater, mini-plays are an odd species. Their writers must pack exposition, character development and a convincing story into a much tighter time frame. And given the impracticality of mounting such plays one at a time, theaters must present them in crowded company.

Despite the challenges, many gifted playwrights continue to dash them off. And, fortunately for audiences, small and ambitious theaters continue to put them in front of an audience.

The latest such production is the inaugural 10-minute play festival, "BUA Takes Ten: GLBT Short Plays," opening at 8 tonight in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre (119 W. Chippewa St.). (Subversive Theatre's "Subversive Shorts" also opens this week in the Manny Fried Playhouse.) The BUA festival was co-curated by local playwrights Donna Hoke and Matthew Crehan Higgins, both of whom will present their own work alongside that of 10 other writers.

"It's a great way to provide opportunities to and share the work of multiple playwrights," co-organizer Donna Hoke said in a release. "For audiences, these festivals are fun because they get so many perspectives in one evening."

Tickets are $15 to $25, with more information available at www.buffalobua.org or 886-9239.

-- Colin Dabkowski