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Kentucky: Friday Night Footlights

Kentucky hosted its first Friday Night Footlights® in December featuring Lexington playwright EMMA GRACE IMES’ new play Paradoxical Contact.

young woman reading a script

Kentucky hosted its first Friday Night Footlights® in December featuring Lexington playwright EMMA GRACE IMES’ new play Paradoxical Contact.

A broken improv troupe and an alien culture enthusiast walk into a SETI research campus and are tasked with creating a new “creative” message to send out to a potential alien neighbor. Communications fall apart. Old wounds are torn open all while the lonely dark sky looms overhead. Is there a solution to the Fermi paradox? Where are all the aliens? Are we alone?

Emma calls herself a “new playwright,” having recently earned her B.A. in Theatre at the University of Kentucky. Her playwriting professor, member and former KY regional rep HERMAN DANIEL FARRELL III introduced her to the Dramatists Guild and she joined as an associate member upon finishing her first full-length play. She says she joined to have access to the many professional resources. “The world is crazy and I’m gonna need all the help I can get.”

Emma enjoyed a reading of Paradoxical in November hosted by Kentucky Playwrights Workshop and had the opportunity to do revisions before her Footlights reading. Her goals post Footlight reading? Short term: comb through for grammatical errors. “Grammar doesn’t come easily to me,” she admitted. Other than that “there are about three things I want to explore that I left untouched. Seeing it read live was very helpful. I found out new things about my characters by listening to how the wonderfully talented actors interpreted my script.” Long term: the goal of all playwrights, “to see it performed live in front of an audience.”

When asked what she was working on now: “Getting new ideas. I felt like my head was empty after making the second draft of this play. When I write, it’s usually because some idea was brewing in my head and taking up too much space. With Paradoxical it was a fascination with the Fermi paradox which morphed into thoughts about loneliness and miscommunications. As a neurodivergent person communicating with people socially isn’t my strong suit but when it does happen successfully it’s great. Also, the big ole pandemic struck right after I had written the first scene. Loneliness had to be in the play so I could get some of it out of my head.” Right now, her ideas are involving hoarding, capitalism, Appalachian kids romanticizing Japan, softness as a form of revolution and Calico Critters. I, for one, can’t wait to read that play!

Kentucky playwrights interested in having a play featured in the Friday Night Footlights® should contact me at It not only provides an opportunity to hear your play out loud and receive feedback from your peers, it also gives playwrights the opportunity to self-produce in a low-stakes, zero financial commitment, and supportive environment. As your rep, I will host the reading and lead the talkback (and even read stage directions if you need!), but it is the responsibility of the playwright to cast, attach a director if inclined, and rehearse prior to the reading.