“The reason the festival began to begin with is that it was an exciting way to incorporate more playwrights into our season,” said Bard’s Town producer and owner Doug Schutte in a recent interview.
Schutte, who is a playwright himself, added that 10-minute plays are an excellent way for writers to get started.
“The 10-minute piece makes you focus, inherently,” he said. “I think it’s a way for people to get into playwriting, and usually once a year there will be someone who hasn’t written a play before.”
His contribution this year, “Ward of the Wings,” is about “the only unhappy man in heaven.”
Gary Wadley is a returning playwright who’s participated in three previous Ten-Tucky’s. He told Insider that his play, “A Family Affair,” “… (is) about a dysfunctional family. And what you see is not necessarily there.” He said the story is inspired by “Sunset Boulevard,” but it doesn’t really take anything from the famous film other than the initial spark that set him going.
Teri Folzt, from Fort Thomas, started writing after she retired from her career as a drama and English teacher.
“I joined a group in Cincinnati, (and) started writing poetry and essays,” said Foltz. She also tried her hand at standup comedy. “It seemed like the audience liked my jokes about teaching, so I decided to write a full-length play about my teaching career.”
Her 10-minute play, “The Off Chance,” concerns fate and a meeting in a laundry mat.
“The fella in the play has a little quirk in that he writes down his horoscope every single day, and then he tries to make it happen before midnight; and she has a quirk that she follows her bio rhythms,” said Foltz.
Jennifer Donlon’s interest in theater started as a teenager.
“I had a crush on someone back in high school; they were in the drama club, so I started going,” she said. But all crushes aside, she got hooked on the theater and its inclusive environment. “I grew up in a really religious conservative family, and I was in the closet for many years. But in the theater, I did not have to be.”
Her play, “Hashtag,” creates a world were hastags and emojis are personified.
“Twitter is a business, and all the hastags that are in there, they are personified, and it deals with the fleeting attention span people have,” said Donlon. She listed characters like #blacklivesmatter and #selfie. “Hashtag” marks the first time Donlon will see her work performed.
Playwright Rachel White is no stranger to The Bard’s Town stage. She’s an active part of Louisville’s playwriting scene, and her play, “Tradition,” marks the third time her original work has been performed this summer. She’s fresh off the premiere of her one-person show “Eyes in the Storm,” part of the Single Shots Festival, and the premiere of her full-length play, “The Brownstone,” which was part of the first Derby City Playwrights Festival.
White began playwriting as a college student. She cites the importance of the student-run “lab” at her school, a feature of many college acting programs. A lab is a stripped-down, no-frills space where students can produce experimental or original work. She went on to get a master’s in playwriting at the New School before returning to Louisville.
Her Ten-Tucky contribution, “Tradition,” is a psychological Christmas play about a woman and her husband.
“Their rule at their house is they don’t celebrate anything, and she’s trying to get him to come off that a little bit,” said White.
Zachary Burrell also started playwriting in college, but he’s better known around Louisville for his onstage contributions. He’s been a fixture at Kentucky Shakespeare since Matt Wallace’s tenure began, and can be seen with a variety of companies including Stage One, Pandora Productions and Theatre .
“You can always find art of someone else’s to do,” said Burrell, somewhat downplaying his achievements as an actor about town. “But it will never be 100 percent yours. I think that drew me to playwriting … it feels more like your own art than your interpretation of someone else. Neither is superior, but it’s a different end of the spectrum.”
His play, “3000 Words or Less,” was written while on tour in South America. Burrell said having his play debut has been nerve-wracking. “I’m freaking out. It’s funny, I don’t get nervous as a performer anymore, you get the ‘Ok, here we go,’ but I don’t get anxiety. But with this one, I’m. like, ‘Oh god,’ and I think about it at night before I go to bed.”
Jordan Elizabeth Henry got a degree in creative writing, but started college in a very different major.
“Intercultural studies was basically a made-up major that was about doing missions work. I hated it,” said Henry. She switched to creative writing after her English teacher encouraged her to do so. After graduation, Henry worked mostly as a technical writer, but she’s now beginning to focus on playwriting.
“It’s just been about a year that I’ve been treating my playwriting like a second job,” said Henry. “I’ve been more serious and consistent about sending out submissions.”
She said submitting her play “Elephants” to The Bard’s Town was one of the first things she did after renewing her playwriting focus. The play has an all female cast and examines on the familial relationships between a woman, her mother and her aunt.
Ten-Tucky is rounded out by “It’s Always Something” by Courtney Groszhans.
Schutte said giving a variety of playwrights the opportunity to see their work on stage is a benefit of Ten-Tucky. “I think more than anything, what this place is doing is allowing a platform for playwrights who are already writing and have been unable to find that platform.”
The sixth annual Ten-Tucky Festival of 10-Minute Plays runs Sept. 15-18 and 22-25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets run $16-$18 and can be purchased in advance. The Bard’s Town is located at 1801 Bardstown Road.