By Tanner Kent
The Free Press
MANKATO — Greg Abbott never meant for this to become the Anywhere-but-Minnesota Shorts Play Festival.
So, after a year in which 7 out of 8 short play submissions came from somewhere other than the Land of Lakes, Abbott decided to make a few changes for 2013.
“Many Minnesota writers were being squeezed out,” said the North Mankato playwright who helped organize the festival that is nearing its fifth year. “We did want to keep this the Minnesota Shorts Play Festival.”
Since its inception, the play festival’s pool of submissions has grown exponentially. Year one brought 50 submissions. Year three brought more than 120. Last year, Abbott said organizers were “flooded” with more than 400 submissions.
But of those, about 350 were from writers and playwrights outside Minnesota -- including one from Israel, another from Australia and several others from well-known national playwrights such as Mark Harvey Levine and Rich Orloff.
While Abbott said he’s thrilled the festival is garnering national interest, he also said it’s important to preserve the founding principle of the festival -- to encourage and promote Minnesota playwrights, directors and actors.
To that end, the play festival is allowing Minnesota playwrights to submit two pieces, rather than the one piece allowed for out-of-state writers. Minnesota playwrights will also have an extended deadline -- noon on April 15 -- and will be given their own night of performance during the festival.
This year, selected Minnesota playwrights will stage their works on Thursday while national works will be staged on Friday.
Scripts must be 12 pages or less and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org in pdf or doc format. Include name, postal address, email, phone contact and play title. Judges will conduct a blind reading of scripts in May and June.
For more information on the festival or how to submit, visit www.mnshorts.com, or call 507-420-1881.