Arts’ Watch: KTA new play contest finalists: Winner’s all

Published 7:30 pm Thursday, December 2, 2021

By Bill McCann

The Kentucky Theatre Association recently hosted its 50 th Anniversary convention at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green where it recognized the winning playwrights of this year’s Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest. The KTA contest, now 12 years old, recognizes the state’s best playwrights in three categories: 10-minute play, one-act, and full- length play.

KTA’s award’s ceremony was available online and in person allowing more people than ever to enjoy the festivities. Beginning at 7 pm EST, the program featured the reading of 10- minute cuttings from each of the one-act and full-length finalists and the reading of the 10-minute plays in their entirety. Following the readings of the finalists the winners were presented with checks and plaques to honor their achievements; the first and second runners-up in each category received plaques.

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The contest coordinator for this year’s contest and the award’s ceremony was Cat Rhoden Goguen, Barbourville, a board member of KTA and a playwright whose one-act play “May I Have Your Attention, Please?” has been produced in nearly every state, several provinces of Canada, and a number of European countries. Her play is published by Pioneer Drama. Following, by category, are the playwrights, hometown, their play’s name, casting requirements (Male Female) and a brief synopsis of the plot of their play. Playwrights are listed alphabetically. Matt Riffenburg, Berea, was a finalist in two categories.

10-Minute finalists

Bill Brohaugh and Lisa Holt, Florence, “A Patchwork Guilt? An American Comedy” (2M 2F) Two towering multicultural icons examine the essence and the challenges of their melting-pot ancestry and how our shared heritage binds us all together.

Matt Riffenburg, “Calling Home” (2 M 3F), Leaving home is a life changing event for a young girl. It also changes things for those she loves in different ways.

Eric Thomas, Florence, “April is No Fool” (1 M 2 F either gender) A staff member has been murdered at Devonhampfordshire Manor. The detective interviews suspects with the help of the new cook, April, who is seemingly invisible to everyone. Well… almost everyone.
The winning playwright was Eric Thomas, with Matt Riffenburg first runner-up, and Bill Brohaugh and Lisa Holt, second runners-up.
One-act finalists

Cris Eli Blak, Louisville, “Burden of Proof” (1 M 1F African American cast) A high school teacher who works with inner city kids must face his lawyer wife when she comes home and reveals that her next case will be defending a white supremacist.”
Ed Clark, Lexington, (1 M 1F) “Blindspot: A Zoom Play.” When Mom and Dad leave behind competing video testaments, we discover that we never really knew them at all.

Teri Foltz, Ft. Thomas “Me and Julio” (1M 5 F) The middle school cafeteria can be a harrowing place for anyone, especially if you’re new, or a writer.
Matt Riffenburg, “Saturday Night Special” (2 M 1F) A first date leads a couple to see why Saturday night is indeed special.
Due to a tie, this category had four finalists. The winner as Ed Clark, with Cris Eli Blak
first runner-up, and Teri Foltzand Matt Riffenburg tied for second runner-up

Full-length finalists
Richard Cavendish is the pen name of Rusty Rechenbach, Richmond, “Day of Releasement” (4 M 3 F, multi-racial cast)
Historical fiction. Two star-crossed lovers connect over a one hundred eighty-seven-year chasm through the power of music. The story of a nineteenth century enslaved woman who has found freedom by joining the Shakers and a twentieth century reenactor/singer who finds true simplicity in Shaker history.

Sage Martin, Louisville, (3 M 7 F) “The Miss Moonlite BBQ Pageant” is half barbecue cook-off, half beauty pageant. When Marnie moves in with her drunken estranged grandpa following her mother’s death, the odd pair are forced to confront a fractured family history the only way they know how: homemade barbecue. The pastor’s wife has a suspicious 4-year winning streak, and the town doesn’t take kindly to newcomers in the competition. …May the best dish win.

Derek Trumbo, Burgin, “From Atop Pine Mountain,” (2M 3F multi-racial cast) A man carries the scars of his past with him on the journey for the new life he wants for himself. A past filled with neglect, abandonment, and uncertainty. From atop Pine Mountain, perhaps he’ll discover the answers he’s spent a lifetime searching for.

The winner among the full-length finalists was Derek Trumbo, with Richard Cavendish first runner-up and Sage Martin, second runner-up.
Many thanks to the playwrights for providing synopses of their plays.

The scripts of the finalists were produced and read by community theatre members and directors including those associated with Flashback Theater, Somerset; Theatre Workshop Owensboro; Hardin Co. Playhouse, Elizabethtown; Middlesborough Little Theatre; and members of the Centre College (Danville) and Union College (Barbourville) departments of theatre.

Bill McCann is an arts columnist, playwright, member of the Dramatists Guild, and a host of the Theatre Series, an occasional feature of WEKUs Eastern Standard news magazine. For more information visit