A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northern Kentucky playwrights named 2017 winners of Kentucky Theatre Association new play contest

By William McCann
KyForward Contributor

On Friday night, during the opening night of the Kentucky Theatre Association annual conference at Pikeville’s Jenny Wiley Theatre, the state’s best playwrights of 2017 were celebrated and honored. The evening began with a reading of Richard Cavendish’s 10-minute play, “Botherum.” Following were readings of 20-minute cuttings from “Rural Free Delivery” by playwright Grace Epstein, “Incorrigible” by Teri Foltz and “The Wedding Dress” by Nancy Gall-Clayton.

Following the readings, awards were given to the winning playwrights in two categories, 10-minute play, and full-length play. Prior to the conference Richard Cavendish, of Richmond, had been announced as the winner of the 10-minute category. But the tension in the auditorium was palpable after the final cutting from the full-length works was finished.

Kathy E. B. Ellis, who for its nine-year history has been in charge of the New Plays Festival at the KTA conference, first presented the plaque and $25 check to Dr. Rev. Russell Rechenbach, who writes under the pen name Richard Cavendish, for his play “Botherum.”

Teri Foltz (Photo provided)

After a collective breath, Ellis announced that Teri Foltz, of Ft. Thomas, had won the contest for her full-length play “Incorrigible” and was presented with a plaque and a check for $250. The remaining finalists, Epstein, of Dayton, and Gall-Clayton, of Louisville, received plaques recognizing their achievement. All four playwrights were also provided a night’s lodging in Pikeville.

The Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest and Festival was founded with a generous donation by Bill Forsyth, himself a playwright and theatre philanthropist, nine years ago. Until recently the contest was open to all Kentucky playwrights, including those no longer living in the state, who could enter either a one-act or full-length play. Only a single one-act play has ever won the contest. “Pump Works” by Heidi Saunders had a run time of only about 20 minutes. In 2014 the contest was expanded to encourage the submission of short works.

Though winning playwrights have always had strong connections to the state, some were living elsewhere when they won in previous years. This year’s festival is notable for the fact that all of the winning playwrights are residents of Kentucky. Winners and finalists playwrights are residents of Barbourville, Covington, Danville, Dayton, Fisherville, Ft. Thomas, Harrodsburg, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead and Richmond.

William McCann, Jr. is a playwright, poet, and teacher. A member of the Dramatists Guild of America, he is the editor of the Kentucky Theatre Yearbook, 2017. He lives near Corinth in Harrison County.

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