Drama survives because it eludes trends. Good drama finds poetry in the flotsam and jetsam of our lives. It survives because it extrapolates what is universal and external from quotidian muddles in a way that heightens an audience’s self-awareness. In so doing, a good play often produces a sense of catharsis. The Telluride Playwrights Festival? “Catharsis” is its middle name. Especially this year. The 2012 Telluride Playwrights Festival, “Theatre Politicos, Speaking Up” explores, in a darkly humorous way, political theatre or “theatre politicos,” meaning the “voice of the people,” with an emphasis on Russian theatre.

From Tuesday, July 10 – Sunday, July 15 playwrights, actors and directors from all over the country join locals for a theatrically intensive week, when playwrights work on new plays and their efforts culminate in staged readings at the historic Sheridan Opera House. Following all performances is the Festival’s customary talk back, during which time the audience is encouraged to speak up. The exchange is vital in helping the playwrights further the journey of creating their plays.

The festival kicks off on Monday, July 9, with a  “PlaySLAM,” a free event of drama at the Steaming Bean. Bring short stories, scenes and monologues to read.

Tuesday, July 10, part-time local and acclaimed comic, Robert Dubac, workshops his new hard-biting political comedy, “Free Range Thinking,” which The Huffington Post describes as follows:

“Chock full of wonderful laughter, joyful surprises and unexpected applause-breaking moments. A master.”

In addition to Dubac’s workshop, there are staged readings directed by Yury Urnov from Wooly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C and Jan Buttram from Abingdon Theatre Company in New York City.

Urnov plans to discuss the current political situation in Russia and how it impacts Russian theatre Thursday, July 12, noon, Sheridan Opera House, Gallery Room. He also brings a contemporary Russian play, “Vodka, F***ing, Television.” Buttram debuts her new work,  “April is Dead in Paris,” about the actress June Havoc. Both plays are to be read at free coffee and pastry weekend readings around town.

This year, the Telluride Playwrights Festival also features three main-stage evening readings of archly comedic, current plays.

“Chez Rikers,” by Charles Liepart, focuses on an upper East side couple in Manhattan after the revolution. “The Gleam,” by Eve Sawyer aka Carol Mack, is a fantasy about art and corporate responsibility. “Swingset/Moon,” by Daniel Glenn, features a young graduate playwright whose wild, big comedy bursts with life and death from here to India. “Swingset” is directed by local Sasha Cucciniello of Telluride Theatre.

New this year  and led by former Telluride High School pupil Lily Sullivan – currently working with the Second City Conservatory in Chicago –  is a youth theatre program, being done in collaboration with the Telluride Academy. “Improv, Improv, Improv” is Wednesday evening, July 11, Sheridan Opera House, and should be a rollicking night with company and community members. (Audience participation is encouraged.)

In its sixth year, the Telluride Playwright’s Festival provides a laboratory setting for playwrights, actors and directors to network and nurture new theatrical works. Plays fine-tuned at past Telluride Playwrights Festivals are now being produced in major cities all over the country. This year alone, three plays first heard in Telluride will be produced in New York City, Chicago and Detroit, and, as in past years, all bearing the iconic Festival stamp: “Made in Telluride.”

Presented by Sparky Productions and SilverStar Luxury Properties, and generously supported by CCAASE and Colorado Creative Industries, all performances are held at the Sheridan Opera House and local venues.

Festival passes are now on sale for $40 for all events.  Very special patron passes are also available for $150. The passes are transferable and can be bought through or (regular passes only).

The Telluride Playwrights Festival is inclusive and welcomes community actors, playwrights and interns who want to learn and work with professionals. Anyone interested in buying a pass for the festival please go to “http://www.playwrightsfestival” and Telluride Playwrights Festival Fan Page on Facebook for more information.


Click the “play” button and listen to what Telluride Playwrights festival founder and visionary, Jennie Franks, has to say.

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