They have six stories, 10 minutes each and only a week to prepare them for a live stage. It's a challenge that both cast and crew faced head on this week, preparing for the first ever Short Cuts Festival.

The festival was playwright Yvette Nolan's idea.  

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Yvette Nolan is the brain behind the first-ever Short Cuts Festival. It runs April 11-13 in Saskatoon. (Britainy Robinson)

 She wanted to get more exposure for local writers, and said the format keeps the drama focused.

"Ten minute plays are such tight, sweet little things," explained Nolan. "You have to have the same discipline, conflict and characters but It's not such a big commitment for a writer to write a 10 minute play." 

The festival brings people who are normally behind the scenes to centre stage, including Alan Long.

At Long's day job, he's the general manager for the Saskatchewan Native Theatre company. At Short Cuts, he's running lines and acting in four of the plays. 

"It's really lit a fire under me," Long admitted. "It's been a little while since I've been on stage and it feels really good to connect with actors again."

While it may be easy to see how cast, crew and writers benefit from the festival, the format will be a first for the audience.

Nolan said this festival was designed with audience participation in mind. The paper programs resemble study guides, with spaces left blank for people to jot down thoughts about each performance. After each series of performances, there will be open feedback sessions downstairs, at the Refinery.

"This is designed as a growth experience for both the cast and the audience," explained Nolan.

The Short Cuts festival begins Friday, and runs until Sunday at the Refinery in Saskatoon.