The One Act Play Festival returns to the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett Theatre March 29 and 30.
To date five plays have been submitted including submissions from Shakespeare in the Park, two from University of Lethbridge students and a couple from other community groups.
“So we’ll be going both Friday and Saturday as we currently have three long plays and a shorter one. Could possibly do them in one night if we start early enough,” observed organizer Rita Peterson, in an email.
The festival was at Casa last year and was so popular that they had to turn people away at the door. This year, they are excited to be back in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett Theatre for at least one day.
The One Act Play Festival has been an important part of long-standing theatre troupe Playgoers of Lethbridge’s mandate to develop actors and up-and-coming directors since the early ’70s.
All entries will be adjudicated by adjudicator Richard O’Brien, who, among his many accomplishments, founded Red Deer college’s drama program.
“He’s been working in drama for most of his adult life,” Peterson said.
There will be awards for best original script, best play, best actor and best actress. The winner can go to High River to compete in the provincial One Act Play Festival May 3 and 4.
“Playgoers of Lethbridge has been involved with the One Act Play Festival for at least 40 years,” summarized Peterson, who has participated in the festival as an actor in director many times.
ADFA (Alberta Drama Festival Association) covers some mileage and accommodations expenses for the winner to participate in the provincial festival.
University student Tracy Wyman who has submitted an original script called “Falling Through Time” which she will perform with Jocelyn Steinborn and Halley Gray.
“It is a series of three monologues by three women talking about their memories and their lives,” Peterson described.
Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story features Josh Hammerstedt and Cole Fetting, and several familiar faces from backstage including first-time director Mary-Lynne Muhly.
“They needed a director and I’ve been involved backstage with enough plays, so I volunteered,” chuckled Muhly, holding a rehearsal at her home.
Fetting and Hammerstedt planned to perform “Zoo Story” for last year’s One Act Play Festival, but weren’t able to get it ready in time.
“‘Zoo Story’ is about a guy sitting on a park bench who encounters this interesting character and they have an interesting conversation,” said Fetting, a familiar face with Shakespeare in the Park and with several University of Lethbridge productions, who plays Jerry, who encounters Peter, played by Josh Hammerstedt.
Jerry corners Peter and forces him to listen to stories about his life and why he’s visiting the zoo.
“The characters both have very different life experiences so it is really a lot of fun,” Hammerstedt said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on stage,” said Hammerstedt, who has performed and built sets for Playgoers of Lethbridge and who usually helps out back stage with Shakespeare in the Park.
“It’s a long play, almost an hour long,” observed Muhly. It is one of several longer pieces scheduled for this year. Plays are supposed to be between 15 minutes no longer than 59 minutes plus no more than 10 minutes for set up.
“It’s definitely a really great piece of theatre. You can’t stop reading the script,” Fetting enthused, noting “Zoo Story” is his third play of the year so far. He is currently part of the University of Lethbridge’s production of “DADA Does Not Mean Anything.” He will also be in Shakespeare in the Park’s summer production of “Macbeth.”
“I get to yell at Cole and Mary-Lynn gets to boss us around,” Hammerstedt chuckled.
“We’ve all put a lot of work in to it,” he continued.
Stephen Graham and Jeff Graham’s Theatre Insidus submitted a Stephen Graham original script called “Getting Through” which is described as “Some days you wake up ready to take on the world. Some days it’s all you can to to get out of bed, and Sam is having one of those days.”
“I’m always excited to see new scripts being developed,” Peterson enthused, noting a lot of plays are submitted at the last minute, so the deadline to register for the festival this year was moved to March 15.
“The One Act Play Festival gives an opportunity for new playwrights to be adjudicated. And we all learn a lot just by listening to the adjudications,” she continued.
Friday, March 29 features “Falling Through Time” by Tracy Wyman; ”She is Buried” by Kayla Turnbull and a play to be named from Tahnia Greene.
Saturday night, March 30, features “Zoo Story” and Theatre Insidus’s “Getting Through” will also be Saturday.
Admission is $10. The fun begins at 7 p.m. If you have a ticket for Friday, they will also let you in on Saturday at no extra charge.