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Playwrights get a chance in spotlight
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Local playwrights have a chance to show off on Saturday night during the annual Playwrights Showcase at the Sautee Nacoochee Center.

The evening will feature three plays written by first time playwrights from North Georgia — "The Troubadour’s Tale" by Devin C. Pruchnicki, "Beyond Jesse James" by Lynda Holmes and "Breakfast at Grandma’s" by Ginevra Boyes. The three were chosen to be featured out of more than a dozen submissions, said Terri Edgar, arts program director at the Sautee Nacoochee Center.

All of the plays are one act, and will be read by area actors.

"One of them is set in the medieval times, one of them is set in the old West and one is contemporary," Edgar said. "Of the three winners, they are very diverse."

The purpose of the contest is to help draw writers out of the North Georgia woodwork, Edgar said.

"It’s to nurture creativity; it’s part of our mission statement ... ‘To nurture, support and encourage the development of area playwrights’," she said.

Local writer Lynda Holmes said she has written for academic journals, as well as completed some short stories and poetry. But this was the first time she thought about writing a play.

Her first step, she said, was to research on the Internet how a play is formatted, and she found some sample plays. But the story she wrote, she said, has been part of her family history for years.

"My uncle told this story, and I grew up hearing this story about our relative, Doc, who allegedly stared down Jesse James. The whole family would say, ‘Oh, that’s hogwash!’ But I was always mesmerized by it," Holmes said.

After doing some research, she found out she did have relatives who lived on a ranch in Texas during the time of Jesse James. According to family lore, James was robbing a train her family members were riding back to the East coast. But rather than give him their valuables, Doc stared him down — and never gave a dime.

"What I did was I took the part about how my relative stared down Jesse James, and I changed it around somewhat, fictionalized it a bit," she said. "But it’s based on historical fact. The point is not that it happened or not, but the integrity of the family. They stuck to their guns, so to speak."

Holmes said she had thought about entering the contest for years, but it was only recently, after writing more with the Northeast Georgia Writers, that she actually attempted writing a play.

"I’m a member of Northeast Georgia Writers and had been doing more varied writing," she said. "So I thought, ‘I’m going to do that this year.’"

While Edgar said she received about a dozen entries, she said she easily received double that number in inquiries about the contest.

"Now, coming up with the courage to type it all up and put it in a binder and send it off to be judged is a different matter," she said. "But there are playwrights in the hills around here."