AACT Festival Day 1 (Wed, June 25)

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The Back Fill Blog Home AACT Festival Day 2 (Thurs, Jun 26 Evening)

Ok, seems that my hotel doesn’t have Internet access, so I’m going to have to write these off line and upload them to the website when I get home.

Right now, I’m writing from a Days Inn in Torrington CT. I’m attending the American Association of Community Theaters’ Bi-annual theater festival.

The festival concept is that each state holds their own competition to select a show to go to the regional competition. New Jersey’s was held by the NJTL in March, and was won by The Player Theater who performed The Laramie Project. NJ is in the Eastern States Theater Association (ESTA), and the winner there gets to go to the national competition, to compete with the winners from the other 9 regions. This year ESTA’s regional competition was also hosted by the NJTL and the Laramie Project won there as well, so now, I’m here at the national competition, to cheer on Players Theater, but also to see some more good theater.

The national festival could be anywhere in the country, but as luck would have it, this year it’s in Torrington, Connecticut. (The next one, in 2005, will be in Kalamazoo, Mich.)

Now, my plan was to leave home between 10 and noon, to arrive here by 3PM. It didn’t work out that way, and I left about 4PM, and hit rush hour traffic the whole drive up, arriving about 6:30PM. The main part of the festival opened at 7PM, so I just made it.

After a few announcements and the presentation of the AACT Fellow Awards (which, oddly, were rather badly staged), the first performance began: “Interview” performed by the Theater Company of Saugus (Mass). The play itself was rather bizarre and surreal. The performances were great, and the lighting effects were just amazing, by the play itself was just too strange to really grip you emotionally. It ran only about 40 minutes, but it seems much longer.

After the show, three adjudicators give their opinion of it, and then we moved on to the next show.

This one was “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum”, performed by the Elkhart Civil Theater (from Indiana). Shows in competition have a strict 60 minute time limit, so they had to cut it down quite a bit, but they did an amazing job, and if you are familiar with the show, you may be aware on a line cut here and there, it’s hard to imagine that they actually cut over an hour out of it. They did jettison most of the songs, and cut the rest to only a verse or two. Watching this, I got the feeling their Hysterium was trying to play Pseudolos instead on his own role, and their Pseudolos was playing it a bit restrained, so you had two half Pseudolii instead of one full one, which is not quite right.

After the adjudicators spoke about that one, there was a reception/party in the theater lobby. Oddly, just about the only people there were the performers in that evening’s shows. All the other teams had early morning rehearsals tomorrow.