HESSTON — Hesston College Theatre Director Rachel Jantzi is building on the success of last year's "Pen to Paper to Performance," a festival that staged 10-minute play submissions from local playwrights.

Last year, seven plays by six playwrights were featured and Jantzi said she has already received entries for this year's event, which will be held April 27 and 28.

"So far, we already have more submissions coming in sooner than they did last year, which has me excited," Jantzi said.

Authors of any age can participate in the contest, which will accept submissions through March 16. Submissions should be around 10 minutes long (about eight to 12 pages in length) Writers are encouraged to include three to five characters who can be portrayed by college students in the script, keeping settings minimal. Plays must be original works that have not been previously produced. Playwrights are limited to two submissions. No specific themes or elements are required.

"I kind of like not putting parameters on it because people surprise me," Jantzi said. "I think we have enough creative people that we don't need a theme."

The tone of last year's selected "Pen to Paper to Performance" pieces ranged from tongue-in-cheek satire to heart-wrenching drama.

"I kind of liked the randomness we had last year — everything from political comedy to family dealing with a child who experiences the world differently," Jantzi said.

Submissions for "Pen to Paper to Performance" will be put through a selection process to ensure the script not only tells a good story, but also makes sense to put on a stage.

"It may make a good piece of prose, but it may not be the best for a character or theatrical interpretation," Jantzi said.

On March 23, eight submissions will be selected and their authors notified.

Last year, Jantzi directed the entire showcase, but this year she said she may ask students or guest directors to take on some of that responsibility.

"Just as it is fun to see different playwrights, it could be fun to see how different people interpret things," Jantzi said.

The playwrights selected for "Pen to Paper to Performance" will receive a portion of the box office earnings for the performances, which will be held in Keim Center's Black Box Theater on the Hesston College campus at the showcase event April 27 and 28.

As she did last year, Jantzi said there will be a talkback with the playwrights after the performances, giving the audience, actors and directors a chance to hear from the author and ask them questions.

"I think there's something to be said for letting a play have a voice beyond the script and discuss and defend their script," Jantzi said.

Scripts submitted for "Pen to Paper to Performance" must include a cover page with the play's title, the playwright's name, phone number and email address, submitted via email to rachelj@hesston.edu, with “10-minute play” in the subject line. A stapled hard copy must also be sent to Hesston College, c/o Rachel Jantzi, Director of Theatre, PO Box 3000, Hesston, KS 67062. For more information, call 620-327-8142.