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Contributed photo by Julie Van Valkenburg / Nick Skonberg (on floor) and Aiden Dichiacchio (standing) will appear in "Mary Had a Little Lamb," a murder mystery featured in the CTC's TheatreQuest Original Play Festival.

Young playwrights and actors will take center stage, or actually the Circle Stage, on Friday and Saturday as The Chattanooga Theatre Centre will present four original plays as part of the TheatreQuest Original Play Festival.

Each play is written, directed and performed by TheatreQuest members.

The four plays are "Coffee for Miles," written by Lee Larson, "Ted's Trial," written by Thatcher Schulmeister, "Mary Had a Little Lamb," by Sydney Terfloth and "A Hole & Its Shadow" by Emma Tuttle. TheatreQuest President Terfloth also produced the festival and was inspired by a CTC playwrighting workshop taught last year by Shellyta Chatman.

"I was an extra in second grade and auditioned for my first play in third and have been going back ever since," Terfloth said. "It's been like a second home."

She said the plays were chosen in part with casting and staging in mind, but also because of how the four fit together.

"I would say if there is a theme, it is breaking free. Whether it's breaking free of an insecurity or corporate pressure or just a feeling of being stuck."

In "Coffee for Miles," a timid inchworm named Miles loves his wife and hates making decisions. As fate would have it, he discovers a drink that will help him and his wife, but of course, that means he has to make a decision. Miles and the rest of his charismatic crew showcase the importance of confidence, trust and community.

If You Go

* What: TheatreQuest Original Play Festival

* When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, 2:30 and and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7

* Where: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Circle Theatre, 400 River St.

* Admission: $10

* Information: 423.267.8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

In "Ted's Trial," Ted, a tree, couldn't be happier in life, surrounded as he is by a beautiful park and his best friend, a teen named Emmett. But when the city's mayor decides to turn the park into material for a new mall, Ted and Emmett have to work together to find a way to turn the grumpy townsfolk against him. It's a story about not taking what you have for granted, and finding the beauty in small things.

In "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Mary Maloney is a housewife waiting for her husband, Patrick, to return home from his job as a police officer. When he returns, Mary notices he is uncharacteristically aloof. As the Maloneys' relationship faces a potential end, the true nature of both husband and wife is revealed. Murder, misogyny and Mary Maloney has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

In "A Hole & Its Shadow," there is a man in the hole. He's been there for years, just sitting there with only a shadow for company. But the story isn't about him. It's about two friends who try to help him, and in the process realize maybe he's not the only one in a hole.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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