MIDWAY — The 10-minute play has Kentucky roots: The form was popularized, if not invented, by the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
But beyond Louisville in the spring, there aren't that many stages in the Bluegrass State that present 600-second fare. Midway's Thoroughbred Theatre is going to take a shot at it this weekend, with the inaugural Midway Festival of Plays, which organizers hope will become an annual event.
"It seemed like an interesting, fresh, unique thing to do," Thoroughbred Theatre manager Jim McDaniel said before a rehearsal of the show a week and half ago, the first time all seven shows had come together under one roof.
That brought the kind of who's who of Central Kentucky stage talent — actors usually seen at events like SummerFest in the Arboretum — to Main Street Midway.
The festival is the result of a com petition presented by 517 Playwrights, a relatively new area playwrighting group, and the Kentucky Playwrights Workshop.
Because it was a new contest, 517 Playwrights co-founder Bill McCann said, he wondered whether there would be any submissions.
No problem: There were more than 100 scripts from across the United States and several countries, including Ireland and Israel.
Once the contest judges narrowed the field down to the winners, "We needed a stage to present them on," McCann says.
That's where the Thoroughbred Theatre came in. The theater, part of Midway's active Main Street scene, offered to host the production.
McDaniel and co-organizer Jim Betts talk about possibly making next year either an all-Kentucky event or an international festival. This year's plays include quirky fare as well as bits that echo popular playwrights, including Neil Simon.
"The format does have an element of short-attention-span theater," says Betts, who was inspired to get involved in the festival after taking a playwrighting course from University of Kentucky playwrighting professor and Midway resident Herman Farrell. "The thing is, with such a limited amount of time, you have to be really targeted in what you do. The plays are really focused."
For the audience, the festival can be much like Kentucky weather: If you don't like the play, wait a few minutes, and it will change.