AACT Festival Day 2 (Thurs, Jun 26 Evening)

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Well, after typing up my comments on the Afternoon session, I went looking for food. I was planning to stop by the Burger King across the street, but in the parking lot I met some people from the Venice Little Theater in Florida, and ended up going to dinner with them. Afterward, we were back at the theater. Now might be good time to talk about some of the other rules. I mentioned the one hour time limit. This is very strict – a second over is automatic disqualification. Additionally, there’s a strict ten minute limit (each) for setup and strike. Basically, you must start with your entire set within a 10’x10’ square backstage along with the cast & crew if they fit with the set. Your stage manager says “go”, and they start timing, and you start setting up your set. When it’s up, everyone retreats to your square backstage, and the SM says “Stop”. This led to the first bit of off-stage drama at the festival. For the most part, 10 minutes is plenty of time for set-up. Even “…Forum” with the three large houses had no trouble finishing in 6 or 7 minutes. However, for the first show tonight, there was a bit of a problem. The show was “Having Our Say” (written BTW, by McCarter Theater Artistic Director, Emily Mann). The setting is a simple home, where two sisters have lived for 75 years, so there’s a supply of knickknacks accumulated. But even with that, they had it up in 2 or 3 minutes. But they also used a laptop to project photos of the real life sisters onto a screen. With everyone else in the crew back on the square, the tech handling the projector was still trying to get it to work. Time ticked by… And all this was done on stage on front of the audience. One second over 10 minutes, and they are disqualified even before they start. Finally, an image flashed on the screen and the audience cheered as the tech retreated to the square. I wasn’t timing it, but when they finished it was just ten minutes from the start of the announcements which preceded the setup, so they probably had three or four minutes to spare. This brings up another point of the rules. If the setup in any way establish character, or feel of the play, then that ten minutes is counted as part of your performance hour. If that first image flashed on the screen was one of the photos from the show, it might have triggered that rule. Wisely, they instead used the AACT logo! The show itself ran it right to the wire– 59+ minutes. And then this was followed by the adjudication.

Adjudication is three seasoned directors going up and giving their review of what they liked about the show, and how things could be approved. Now, remember, every show here has already won TWO competitions, so they are already finely honed, so they all the performances are excellent, and their are only small tweak possible for improvement. The adjudicator also has to NOT try to re-director. They have to put themselves into the directors vision of it and offer improvements.

Next up was Region 2, represented by NJ: The Player Theater performing the Laramie Project. Now, this is the second time I’ve seen their production of it, and the third time our seen Laramie in the past two months. Also, while I was rooting for it to win, I was also reviewing it for RECT, so I’m not allowed to say what I thought about it. (OK, it kicked butt!). It was the only show that received a standing ovation! (It was followed by a party in the director’s hotel room, where I am writing this treaty — OK, enough of this, time to party….)

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