Kentucky Playwrights Workshop has been staying busy this theatrical season, keeping the state’s playwrights connected and recognized, following their simple mission statement: “To promote and encourage the development of new works for the stage by Kentucky playwrights.” Their monthly Zoom play readings, KPW Table Reads, hosted by DG member Teri Foltz, are aimed at giving playwrights the opportunity to hear a work in progress out loud and receive feedback from other playwrights and actors in attendance.
Teri is a retired teacher who taught English and theatre for 32 years and has been involved with KPW for about three years as a board member. She is also an award-winning playwright and poet who has recently had her second collection of poems published called The Trouble with Thinking, which consists of “down-to-earth, accessible, and insightful poems, wherein everyday topics are handled in not-so-everyday ways.” When we spoke, she admitted, “the pandemic was good for me. It made me stay home and I wrote a lot. I uploaded over 30 plays to my YouTube page called Teri’s Playdates.” She put a call out to her vast network of actor friends to film readings of her plays, who were happy to have opportunities to act. “I also just had a play done [Incorrigible] at Center Stage Players in Cincinnati, OH, and that was a play I worked on during the pandemic that won an award in 2017, but I couldn’t get it produced. So, I used my time at home to add a character and increase the stakes for some other characters, and it was accepted. I’ve become kind of anxious about going out of the house, because I’ve found that I kind of like staying home. We playwrights are a bit of introverts anyway, so it makes sense.”
Seeing those readings of her own work online gave her the idea to host monthly meetings to showcase other playwrights’ work with the goal to give them a place not only to hone their own plays, but to find community during an unprecedented time in our lives as theatre artists. She will accept either three to four ten-minute plays a month, or there have been a few months where they’ve read a full-length work in progress. She casts the plays, reads the stage directions, and leads the feedback sessions. She asks specific questions to guide the feedback. When I attended a recent meeting in the spring, I found the session incredibly supportive. It felt like a safe space; everyone was enthusiastic and kind. These meetings have served over a dozen Kentucky playwrights this season, and there are no plans to stop doing them as we come out of the pandemic.
If you are a Kentucky playwright interested in participating, you can find email Teri directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KPW’s other effort during this past season has been to recognize new plays by Kentucky playwrights with their new play contests that recognizes excellence in ten-minute plays. They offer a cash prize, and board member Bill McCann works to send the winning plays to theatres in the state for consideration for production. He pitches them as “appetizer” plays to be performed before a billed full-length play. Winners of last year’s awards announced in September 2021 included DG member Tom Coash. Submissions for this year’s contest will be open throughout the month of July. Kentucky residents should keep their eyes on the KPW website for submission guidelines.
World Premieres: Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas
Mariposa/Butterfly by SANDRA FENICHEL ASHER. Trike Theatre, Bentonville, AR
Outside of Here by CLAUDIA BARNETT. Pipeline-Collective and the NECAT Network, Nashville, TN
Giant Steps, An Urbean Musical by MICHAEL DEXTER. Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Chattanooga, TN
Party of Twelve by MARY DONNET-JOHNSON. Washington Theatre at Patterson Park, Rutherford Arts Alliance, Murfreesboro, TN
A Couple of Scientists by NANCY GALL-CLAYTON. Chattanooga State Professional Acting Program, Chattanooga, TN
The Harrowing by ELAN GARONZIK. Central Kentucky Community Theatre, Springfield, KY
I Can’t Breathe by BRANDON J. GIBSON. Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Marble City Opera, Knoxville, TN
Unpacking Mother by KAREN SCHAEFFER. Market House Theatre, Paducah, KY
The Goodbye Levee by MIKE SOLOMONSON. Theatre@the Square, Playhouse on the Square, Memphis, TN
White Dress/Red Bandana by SUSAN M. STEADMAN. Tennessee Stage Company, Knoxville, TN
Represent! by LUCY WANG. Green Room, Crosstown Arts, Memphis, TN