3rd Annual Playwright Festival Opens Friday Evening

LowellArts Theater takes to the stage again this weekend and next at LowellArts.  Audiences will be able to see 8 plays, each 10 minutes in length as part of the 3rd Annual Playwright Festival.  Tickets can be purchased online for shows taking place February 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, and 25.  Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7pm.  Sunday matinees have a 2pm curtain call.

Directors Sue Bradford and Ken Parrish are eager for audiences to see a range of ideas centered around a common theme.  

Brent Alles, Sue Bradford, and Ken Parrish rehearse a scene in which they appear together.

Let the Competition Begin
The playwright festival gives individuals the opportunity to write an original, short script.  They’re given a theme and a comedy or drama can be created.  By the November 15, 2017 deadline 50 plays were received, all focusing on the topic Risky Business.  When setting the theater schedule each season a topic is selected.  

Entries came in from throughout the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand.  Sue Bradford, Ken Parrish, and Louise Weeks reviewed each play, but did not know who authored the piece.  In the end eight plays were selected as finalists in the competition.  Staying within the 10 minute time frame and ease of production using a small cast and simple set were also taken into consideration.  A panel will judge the works when performed before an audience.  One playwright will receive a $500 cash reward.  Playwrights are welcomed and encouraged to see the performance of their work.

John Butler and John P. Foley go over lines for The Firm.

Call for Actors
Bradford and Parrish select actors for the plays they will direct through an audition process.  If you see an individual in more than one play, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Some actors may be cast in multiple plays by one or both directors, meaning an intricate scheduling of rehearsals and show order, which Parrish calls a “logic puzzle”.  

This year a cast of 14 will take on roles encompassed in the works of the eight finalists.  The works of playwrights from five different states and one from Canada will come to life the next two weekends, including Brent Alles, who is involved with LowellArts and was cast in the production.  

Meet the Directors
Sue Bradford and Ken Parrish have been directing the Playwright Festival since it made its debut with LowellArts.  The two have also been involved with Lowell’s local theater for a number of years as well.  

Bradford has been engaged with LowellArts Theater since 1981 in roles of actor, board member, and director.  With experience in a variety of venues, Bradford continues to work with LowellArts stating, “Quite a few of the actors, with Ken Parrish and myself included, have been involved in some of the larger community Theaters – Civic, Actors, Master Arts – but we always find ourselves drawn back to this city and this theater.”

Parrish has been active with LowellArts Theater since 2004 when he was cast in Escanaba in da Moonlight.  He has performed in 12 shows and held the director’s title for four, three of which are the Playwright Festivals.  He enjoys directing the format of the festivals saying, “The Playwright Festival is a wonderful opportunity for people interested in getting on stage to do that.  While the plays are only ten minutes long, they are full of really good roles that are much more than ‘third tree from the left’ that many of us played in school.”  Those interested in writing scripts can try it out or get some practice with the 10 minute time limit.  And actors looking to see if being on stage is right for them can seek out small roles.  Experienced actors can use the festival as another opportunity to perform with the possibility of taking on multiple roles.  

Take the Risk
Purchase tickets to one of the performances to see how eight people took a Risky Business theme and created a 10 minute play.  Advanced tickets can be purchased online for $10.  Tickets are also available at the door for $12 each.  Showtimes are February 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, and 25.  Friday and Saturday performances are at 7pm.  Sunday matinees start at 2pm.

Next up for LowellArts Theater is Rumors.  Auditions will take place March 3rd and 5th.


  1. Can you edit this to state at the beginning that the plays are at LowellArts. Mentioning Larkin’s makes it sound like the plays are over there. Thanks tons and thanks for the post!

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