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Sunflower Shorts: voices and visions from Cortez's play festival

Caro Gomez (L) portrays a window washer who attempts to coax hermit Sam Eggenhuizen (R) out into the world in "The Window," penned by Durango playwright Michael Chapman.
LP McKay
Caro Gomez (L) portrays a window washer who attempts to coax hermit Sam Eggenhuizen (R) out into the world in "The Window," penned by Durango playwright Michael Chapman.

We shine a spotlight on the Sunflower Shorts Play Festival, held earlier this month, diving deep into the inspirations, passions, and perspectives of those who breathe life into this local gem. From the troupe director's vision to the playwright's spark of creativity, and from the actor's dedication to the audience's reactions, join us on this theatrical journey.

In the heart of Cortez lies the Sunflower Theatre, a beacon for regional theater, nurturing talent and echoing the spirit of the community.

Kim Welty

My name is Kim Welty, and I am the matriarch and producer for the Sunflower Troupe. And I've always believed strongly in community theater programs, because it just gives people a lift, people are hugely appreciative. And it you know, they just they love every show, I guess, we've been doing a pretty good job

LP McKay

With a dream to put the sunflower theater on the map. Kim envisioned a place where the community could gather, learn and be entertained.

[Theatre Performance]

LP McKay

But the theater isn't just about the shows. It's about the people who bring those stories to life.

Sylvia Fleitz

My name is Silvia Fleitz, and I play Alice in a play called "The Eternal Optimist." It's about an older woman kind of having a fling with a younger man, we have such a great group of people here to just kind of have this little outlet over here and little Cortez is really wonderful. Well, it can be kind of nerve racking because it's something that's never been done, you know, so you don't really have any sort of preconceived thing about how it should go. But at the same time, that makes it kind of extra fun, because you can kind of throw in your own creativity. We kind of switched a few things up.

[Theatre Performance]

Sam Eggenhuizen

Well, I'm from Netherlands. So I'm gonna save you my last name. But I'm Sam. And I play in "The Window." Well, I'm very lucky to be here. Because I in the Netherlands, I'm a professional singer. And I do love to act. I think there's something very exciting about having a limited amount of time, and to tell the whole story in that time. So I do feel like it's a lot of fun because these stories are quite original.

LP McKay

From experienced actors to newcomers, everyone finds a home at the Sunflower Theatre, including local playwrights.

Michael Chapman

So Michael Chapman, and the piece was called "The Window." And I really enjoy what they're doing at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez, I think that it's flourished. And they have a really great troupe, from people who like to write or act or direct, or people who like to go and watch theater. You know, I think it's a very important entertainment locally, produced locally acted. I think that's really that's a really important part of any community. Be it in Cortez, Durango, What have you. Those actors and director brought so much to it, but you don't anticipate until you sit there and you're like, Oh, wow.

LP McKay

The plays written and performed here resonate far and wide, crossing boundaries and touching hearts.

For those in the audience, every performance becomes a moment of reflection and connection.


My name is Melanie. And I think "The Window" was my favorite. But honestly all of them were so good, so enjoyable.


I thought they were all great. The idea of short play short format,


I want to picks Jack and Jill and Robin and the septarian.

LP McKay

From Durango to the stages in the Netherlands The Sunflower theatres reaches ever expanding. The applause isn't just for a performance. It's a celebration of a community's heart and soul brought alive on stage.

Each attendee was asked to vote on their favorite and the winner of the Audience Choice Award was the Window - we heard from Sam, one of the cast members, and the writer Michael Chapman in that story.

LP recently moved to Mancos from Austin, Texas, where they worked as a Case Manager for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and in HOA property management where they were fortunate to learn many different styles of communication and creative thinking/problem solving. In their time away from work, they watch a ton of movies (spanning all decades, nationalities, and genres), and tries to listen to one really good album every day. They are also the "cool aunt" to two really cool fellow redheads, and the owner of Max and Charlie, her dachshunds.