Key Exchange

Nonproduction events include the festival's "Opening Gala," September 21, at the Pier House Caribbean Spa; a "Meet the Playwrights" party, September 24, at the Top at La Concha, Holiday Inn; and "Three Minute Worlds," an improvisational battle of words between performance poets from around the country, September 25, at the Blue Heaven restaurant.

The festival will utilize nine separate locations for its plays, readings, and seminars: the Waterfront Playhouse at Mallory Square; the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center on Stock Island; the Red Barn Theatre at 319 Duval St.; the San Carlos Institute at 516 Duval St.; Old City Hall at 510 Green St.; the Top at La Concha, Holiday Inn at 430 Duval St.; Florida Keys Community College, on Stock Island; Pier House Caribbean Spa at 1 Duval St.; and the Blue Heaven Restaurant at the corner of Petronia and Thomas streets.

"We wanted to try some site-specific theater," explains Chinnis. "So the courtroom drama [A Day in Court], for example, will be presented in City Hall."

"I think this festival will be especially good for local actors and audiences," notes McGillis, pointing to the variety of workshops and productions. "This is the perfect setting to immerse yourself in theater." She admits that she never has organized a festival before and has been "shooting from the hip" much of the time, aided only by a small staff. Still, she hopes to do it again next year, and eventually to build the festival into one of the country's most significant dramatic events. "It's a wonderful challenge," McGillis says. "Key West has reinvented me."

If you're tired of revivals, glitzy road shows, and much of the overdone material that keeps circulating around South Florida, get on U.S. 1 and drive on down. Key West aims to revitalize your interest in theater. The sunset's not bad, either.

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