Hobo Robo Festival

“Hobo Junction has become most famous in Chicago for their original, full-length comedies, from rock musicals about waiters to plays about good-natured cannibals, but their Hobo Robo festival is definitely worth checking out as a winning model for a short-play festival” — Monica Westin, Flavorpill.com

Of all of the traditions we have had over the years, the HOBO ROBO FESTIVAL might be the one we’re most proud of. An annual event that invites playwrights from around the world to submit their best ten-minute comedies, it has become a mainstay of our theatrical season, with audiences voting on their favorite play – to which we award the playwright 100 dollars CASH. We at the Junction view these festivals as a fantastic opportunity to partner with directors, actors, and technical artists from across Chicagoland to help make HOBO ROBO one of the most successful short play festivals in the Windy City.

Want more information about the festival? Below is the entire history of HOBO ROBO for your perusal. Are you a playwright who wants to submit a ten-minute comedy? Keep an eye out for submission notices, take note of that particular festival’s chosen theme, and then submit your script. NOTE: Any scripts sent prior to next year’s submission posting will be discarded, unfortunately.


In 2009, Josh (previous Artistic Director) and Dan (previous Creative Director) thought that — in keeping with the company’s mission to support new, original comedy for the stage — it would be a fun idea to host a contest/festival that prompted playwrights from across the country to submit their best ten-minute laffers. They deemed this contest the HOBO ROBO NEW COMEDY FESTIVAL. Of the nearly 200 plays submitted, company members selected five finalists, all of which then received a stage reading in front of a packed audience at Chicago’s The Spot. The audience was then asked to vote on which playwright walked away with the title of Hobo Robo Champion and a nice little cash prize to boot. The winning play was Dan Caffrey’s “Ozma & Harriet,” a short play that was subsequently produced as a prelude to Hobo Junction’s musical comedy “Bad Guys in Suits.”

This reading was going to be a one-and-done type deal — after all, the Junction members were far too busy creating full-length comedies. But considering the wealth of submissions sent in, the amount of talent on display, and the unexpectedly-high audience turnout, the Junction committed to making Hobo Robo an annual tradition. In 2010, HOBO ROBO NEW COMEDY FESTIVAL 2: THE FESTIVAL was held — this time around, the eight plays chosen as finalists were fully-produced, as opposed to the first year’s staged readings, and presented over the course of three nights, with a winner being determined by audience voting. The eight finalists (and the winner) were as follows:

A LITTLE FIGHT MUSIC
Written by Dan Caffrey. Directed by Richard Paro.

FORTNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
Written by Dusty Wilson. Directed by Dan Krall.

GRAPES
Written by Chris Homerding. Directed by Brandon Pape.

THE GREAT SLOPPY JOE EXTERMINATION (*WINNER*)
Written by Bill Daniel. Directed by Michael Glazer.

HOW TO DESTROY A THEATER
Written and directed by John Wilson.

IRRATIONAL VOICES
Written by David Wilhelm. Directed by Lev Kalmens.

LANDING THE COASTER
Written by Dan Caffrey & McKenzie Gerber. Directed by Michael Steele.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF THE HANESVILLE PINES TRAILER PARK
Written by Chelsea Marcantel. Directed by Kyra Lewandowski.

As the festival’s popularity continued to grow, the Junction company members decided to throw another exciting wrench into the competition’s gears. Like the two years preceding, the festival would accept ten-minute plays from across the country. But unlike the festivals before, Hobo Robo 3 would only feature short-form comedies that fit the season’s chosen theme: Science Fiction! Over three hundred scripts were submitted, eight finalists were selected, and audiences were reduced to standing-room-only in Chicago’s Oracle Theatre for three nights that were (wait for it) out of this world. The finalists (and winner) of HOBO ROBO 3: HOBOS IN SPACE were as follows:

ASTRONAUT KEY PARTY (*WINNER*)
Written by Dan Caffrey. Directed by Timothy Bambara.

DEATH AND KILLBOTS
Written by Kalson Chan. Directed by Jamie Bragg.

FALLING BODIES
Written by Thomas J. Misuraca. Directed by Eric Van Tassell.

THE GORF
Written by Jon Busch. Directed by Richard Paro.

HIGH MAINTENANCE
Written by Peter Ritt. Directed by Mike Glazer.

THE LAST READER OF BOOKS
Written by Ruben Carbajal. Directed by Katie Kasper.

LITTLE COSMONAUT FOO FOO
Written by Jeff Keele. Directed by Dan Krall.

TOADSTOOLS AND THE MECHANICAL MAN
Written by John Weagly. Directed by Breahan Eve Pautsch.

In its fourth year, the festival received over 300 ten-minute comedic plays from across the country and beyond (Canada is a different country, right?). Eight finalists were selected and, under the guidance of eight very capable Chicagoland directors, produced in Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall over the course of three nights. This festival’s theme, Hollywood, inspired all sorts of hilarity: industry satires and film parodies, with plays set on soundstages, at award ceremonies, and in Michael Bay’s office. By re-igniting creative relationships with longtime collaborators, and establishing new ones with younger artists, HOBO ROBO 4: HOBOS IN HOLLYWOOD allowed the Junction to expand its base of affiliates and work with directors, writers, and actors they had not previously been acquainted with. The fest’s finalists and winner are below:

CONSUMABLES
Written by Chelsea Marcantel. Directed by Cayne Collier.
Featuring company member Kristi Parker-Barnhart.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE EASTWOOD
Written by Mike Bencivenga. Directed by Adam Webster.
Featuring company member Travis Barnhart.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Written by Philip J. Kaplan & Stephanie Walter. Directed by Brandon Little.

LOVE TAKES TEN (*WINNER*)
Written by Betsy Shirey. Directed by Richard Paro.
Featuring company member Ben Hertel.

THE ROLE OF OPTIMUS
Written and directed by Dan Caffrey.

SAW: HOME PREMIUM EDITION
Written by Thomas Senseman. Directed by Ben Young.
Featuring company member Spenser Davis.

SO OVER THE RAINBOW
Written by Adam Dick. Directed by Juan Castaneda.

SUPER LADY
Written by Antoinette Mullins. Directed by Dan Foss.

It is five years since Josh and Dan had the germ of an idea to host a national (and now global) themed playwriting contest, and submissions are coming in faster than ever before. HOBO ROBO 5: HOBOS ACROSS AMERICA might have jumped the gun a little bit as far as “keeping it annual” goes, but that is only because our great country is facing one of the most interesting presidential elections since… well… the last one. This rendition of the festival marks the first time that, in addition to awarding the winning playwright and director 100 DOLLARS EACH, the Junction will also be giving the top Chicagoland director a SWAG BAG, a gift bag consisting of theater-related goodies donated by numerous fantastic theater companies in the city. The politically-themed finalists and winner were as follows:

AD IT UP
Written by Mike Bencivenga. Directed by Ben Young.

FULLY VETTED
Written by Russ Weeks. Directed by Brandon Little.

THE GALILEO FACTOR
Written by Eoin Carney. Directed by Bradley Baker.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL (*WINNER*)
Written by Micah McCoy. Directed by Richard Paro.
Featuring company member Spenser Davis.

INDEPENDENCE
Written by Matt Crowley. Directed by Erika Geller.

INDEPENDENCE DAY
Written by Chelsea Marcantel. Directed by Juan Castaneda.

MATURING IN A NEW WORLD.
Written by Francesca Peppiatt. Directed by Gaby Labotka.
Featuring company member Ben Hertel.

SPATS
Written by Adam Pasen. Directed by Zach Stinett.

STEEPING THE TEA
Written by Bill Daniel. Directed by Christine Worden.
Featuring company member Ben Hertel.

Since the fest’s inception, we have wanted to center a HOBO ROBO around Christmas. As one of his first decisions as new Artistic Director, Spenser approached the awesome team at the Greenhouse Theater Center and pitched the idea of a co-produced three-night event. They accepted, and HOBO ROBO 6: HOBOS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE was born. A distastefully-titled festival just in time for the holidays, this Hobo Robo enjoyed sold-out houses packed with very game audience members ready to laugh their faces off! Holiday cheer was spread and holiday beer was had. Oh, and director Richard Paro won the festival for the third year in a row. Yeah, we know, it’s ridiculous.

DECK YOUR OWN FRIGGIN’ HALLS
Written by Ron Burch. Directed by Rebecca Blackmore.
Featuring ensemble member Kristi Parker-Barnhart.

FUN FOR CATS; DEATH TO ELVES
Written by Anne Flanagan. Directed by Benjamin Brownson.
Featuring company member Elizabeth Elston and Artistic Director Spenser Davis.

A HIPSTER CHRISTMAS CAROL (*WINNER*)
Written by Chelsea Marcantel. Directed by Richard Paro.

KRUMPUS SAVES CHRISTMAS
Written by Kelsey Munger. Directed by Erika Geller.

ORNA-MENTAL
Written by Blake Levinson. Directed by Bradley Baker.

SECRET SANTA
Written by Josh McIlvain. Directed by Mikey Laird.

TRADITIONS
Written by Elizabeth Meyers. Directed by Breahan Eve Pautsch.

WHAT XMAS IS ALL ABOUT
Written by Max Gill. Directed by Becca Kravitz.


Twitter