After the hardy hotel breakfast, I joined in on the one “outside” activity planned for the weekend – A walking tour of Historic Dover, Delaware. Being a sucker for old buildings, I loved it – I should have some photos up in the gallery soon.
For lunch, I gate-crashed into the ESTA Executive Board Meeting which they were holding in a nearby restaurant. (Technically, the meeting are up to the public, so crashing wasn’t all that hard.) Nevertheless, I got myself appointed to the finance committee.
Finished lunch just in time for the afternoon session Saturday. First up was one of the two Maryland entries. (They had 14 shows in their state festival, and the rules state, whenever you have more than 10, the state can send two to the regional). This was an original piece called “XPhiles Requited” about two homeless (and rather unbalanced) men who were fans of the X-Files, and were preparing for their abduction by aliens. It was very well acted, and rather funny, but I never quite got into it. Laughing at the mentally ill is pretty much the same as making funny of the handicapped. The adjudicators really liked it, so it’s right up there is contention.
Next was a farce called “Going to the Chapel” by the troupe from New York. It was a conversation between a bride and her matron of honor, as the bride prepared for her fifth wedding. To me, it seemed like the actresses — particularly the matron, played it too campy, and it didn’t quite gel.
Then was “The Art of Self-Defense” which follow 5 women in a T’ai Chi class as they all go through their own personal transformations. I thought it was very effective, though the adjudicators listed off a number of way to improve it.
Here I should note that, other then when they were on stage, I have not seen the company from New Jersey all weekend. Since they are from Cherry Hill, which is only about two hours away, they might have decided to skip getting a hotel, and just come down for the day on Friday, and are going to return tomorrow morning for the awards. This affects me, because when I’ve been at the ESTA fest previously, I usually hang out with the NJ team, and this wasn’t possible this year. So, when we broke for dinner, I hooked up with the folks from Pennsylvania, and ate with them.
After dinner was the final show of the weekend, a piece by Alan Ayckbourn called “Between Mouthfuls” concerning two squabbling couple at a restaurant. The main conceit of the play is that we hear their conversations “through the ears” of the waiter, so they would only speak out loud while he was next to the table, and just mouth the words the rest of the time.
Afterward, everyone piled into one of the hotel bars — which is where I’ll be, right after I finish writing this…
I still feel that “Proof” and “February 14th” (both from Friday night) are the top two, with “Xphiles” probably third. “Mouthfils” will almost certainly get an ensemble acting award, and possibly an “Ensemble timing” award (which I think they invented on the spot last year). “Self-Defense” will probably get several individual acting awards.