Telluride Playwrights Festival July 5 – July 13

Telluride Playwrights Festival July 5 – July 13

[click “Play” to hear Susan’s interview with Jennie Franks]

People like secrets. Knowing them makes us feel important, even powerful. Here’s one: the Telluride Playwrights Festival. Like the Telluride Musicfest, the Telluride Playwrights Festival is one of the best kept secrets on Telluride’s summer cultural calendar –  despite the fact both events feature blue chip talent and reinforce the Telluride brand on world stage.

Last year, for example, the Telluride Playwrights Festival presented a play by Jan Buttram. Her “Phantom Killer” went on to get produced at the Abingdon Theatre in New York City this past February and received great reviews. Another Playwrights Festival alum, Tracy Shaffer, will see her Telluride script, “(W)Hole,” go up in Denver this fall. Given the track record, it is a safe bet the  scripts written by this year’s crop of carefully vetted playwrights – Philip Gerson, James Still and James McLindon, each highly regarded in the fields of theater and television – will meet with similar success. The best part: You can say you knew them when.

The fourth annual Telluride Playwrights Festival takes place July 5 – July 13 at the Sheridan Opera House and Palm Theatre. On Thursday, July 8, the nonprofit hosts a public reading of the plays by the visiting artists, above and beyond the Main Stage plays, including a lunchtime talk about “Are New Plays Important” in the North Oak Street mall. Two Main Stage readings, also free and open to the general public, take place on Monday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 13, 7:30 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House. Telluride Playwrights Festival is also presenting a Telluride Repertory Theatre production of Philip Gerson’s “This Isn’t What It Looks Like.” That event takes place July 15 – July 18 on The Palm stage (including the audience).

Bottom line: the Telluride Playwrights Festival picks up where Shakespeare left off. The event is all about words. Four hundred years after his death, the Bard remains the most popular playwright in the western world because every word, every phrase, offers dozens of possibilities for pace and rhythms of every scene: directors and actors only have to get out of the way for the structure of the whole play to reveal itself.

It was to be all about words, not production values, when Jennie Franks, president of Sparky Productions, hatched the idea of an annual Playwrights Festival as a laboratory for playwrights, actors and directors to germinate dynamic, meaningful new work. By encouraging audience feedback after the staged readings, each playwright gathers valuable insights to help further along a future draft of his work.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen the Jennie talk about her Festival and the 2010 plays.

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