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Sunflower Theatre seeks original short plays for 2023 festival

Clement Sobotka as Mr. Pippin and Sophia Dickey as his granddaughter in "Mr. Pippin, Adrift," one of the 10 plays performed as part of Sunflower Shorts in 2021. (Courtesy Read Brugger)
Six, 15-minute plays will be chosen for performances in June at Cortez theater

This fall, tap into your creative urges and write an original play for the 2023 Sunflower Shorts Festival.

The Sunflower Troupe is seeking submissions for 15-minute plays that will be performed at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez next summer.

The festival started in 2020, was delayed by the live entertainment void of the pandemic and is now being rekindled in a revised format, said organizer Heidi Brugger.

In 2021, 10 of the 40 plays submitted the previous year were performed at the Sunflower to eager audiences.

“It was such a charge so see so much talent come from our corner of the world,” Brugger said. “It is a nice way to invite participation in community theater.”

This year, the festival is paring down to selecting six plays, and the time limit was increased to 15 minutes from 10 minutes.

Another twist is that each play must incorporate a window prop into the act.

To be eligible to enter the festival, authors and collaborators must be residents of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico or Utah. All works must be original, and cannot be an adaptation of a longer play or another work.

Sunflower Troupe members take a break during rehearsals for the Sunflower Shorts. They are, from left, Heather Musclow, Robby Hennes, Elizabeth Dickey, Sophia Dickey and Clement Sobotka. (Courtesy photo)

The 2023 festival has no theme, but every play must include a set piece of a window, which must figure in the action of the play. Authors may submit a comedy, a drama, or a tragedy – no musicals or children’s theater – and play length is set at 15 minutes.

If an author’s work has been previously presented as a full production before a paying audience in any Four Corners region venue, it is not eligible for Sunflower Shorts.

There is no submission fee; entries are limited to two plays per author. The submission deadline is Jan. 31, 2023.

The six finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges by March 30, 2023, for production that June.

Each performance will feature all six plays, and there will be several dates to catch the homegrown entertainment.

Recognition will be awarded to the most popular play, which will be determined by audience vote at each performance.

The festival winner will be announced on KSJD radio, www.ksjd.org and social media.

Audition calls will be made after the plays are chosen, and actors may perform in more than one production. In 2021, young, middle age and old came out to audition and got parts.

“Directors work together to share actors, determine who is a good fit for which play,” Brugger said. “It’s an ensemble effort, very supportive.”

Brugger said in the 2021 festival the audience was especially thrilled at plays that had animals in them, including cats, dogs, fish and a massive whale prop.

Theater shorts are less intimidating for actors, writers and directors, Brugger said.

“People think ‘I can probably memorize 15 minutes worth of dialogue,’” she said. “Directors who otherwise might never consider it are willing to try out a short. It is wonderful to get more theater experience in our community.”

The call for play submissions were sent out to regional colleges and universities and newspapers in the Four Corners.

For a detailed list of guidelines and an entry form for 2023 Sunflower Shorts, email sunflowershorts@gmail.com. For questions contact: Kim Welty, kimwelty@frontier.net, or Heidi Brugger, climatejedi@protonmail.com, 970-564-9481.