One Act Play Festival

About 7 years ago, I was sitting on the Theatre Alberta board with a number of people who were very involved with the Alberta Drama Festival Association.  They were interested in having the provincial one act play festival up here in Fort McMurray and were wondering if we would be willing to make it happen.  Always up for a challenge, we leveraged the opportunity to reignite adult one acts at a time in our community when additional theatre opportunities were desperately needed.

We successfully hosted the provincials that year and have stayed involved ever since through the efforts of people like Ruth Francouer, Michael Beamish and Michelle Thorne (who now sits as a director at large on the ADFA Board).

The North Zone Regional One Act Play Festival is coming up this Sunday evening, March 30, at Westwood Theatre.  Two plays will be presented with adjudication by Douglas MacArthur, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts at the University of Lethbridge.

Also serving of president of New West Theatre, Mr. MacArthur's creative activities include voice coaching, acting, and transgender voice training.  He has appeared in numerous stage productions in Canada and the United States. Doug is the producer, director and co-founder of the independent theatre company, The Third Eye Collective.  He was instrumental in the creation of the Samish Island Festival of Arts in Washington State and returns each year to share his passion for acting and voice as a guest instructor.

Doug's job in Fort McMurray will be to give sage feedback to two one acts:  Louis and Dave, written by Norm Foster, and re: all, written by local playwright Zachary Barrett.  He will also have to decide the winners of the following awards: Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Technical Achievement.

In addition to taking on the responsibility of representing our region on the ADFA board, Michelle is directing the Norm Foster piece, a short comedic dive into the way that friendships change and grow over time.  She has cast Dave Boutilier and Zenon Campbell in the show.

"When I was looking through scripts of something I might like to tackle as a director - a daunting role that I haven't undertook since my undergrad days - I came across Louis and Dave.  I immediately thought of Dave Boutilier and Zenon Campbell," she recalled

"Both actors are so generous, open and committed. A lot of improvised play during the rehearsals has worked its way into the production and I think it adds a nice genuine layer of friendship to the relationship. Zenon and Dave had never met before this process and it's been really fun for me as a director, and as a mutual friend, to watch their relationship grow along with the chemistry of the characters."

Meanwhile, Zachary Barrett will be debuting his new work during the Regional One Acts Festival called re: all.  A creative soul who has written a number of original one acts over the years, Barrett has called on the talents of Jason Barrett, Johnny Muise and Amanda Campbell to bring this story to life.

"Daniel just got dumped again," wrote Barrett in his brief synopsis. "As he goes right into looking for another partner, his friends try to show him that maybe he doesn't need a girlfriend to be himself."

I love one acts for many reasons.  Generally, the shows are shorter in length, and my experience has been that I am often delighted and surprised by what I see.  I particularly love watching original plays in the one act format.  Over the last 17 years of living in Fort McMurray, many of my fondest memories are of theatre artists sharing their own creations. I fully suspect that this event will not disappoint.  It will also be a great primer for the High School One Acts which are coming up in April.  I know a number of different students who are up to their thespianic eyeballs in rehearsal right now for that event.

Oh, by the way, one of the two plays presented will be selected to represent our zone in the ADFA Provincial One Acts Festival coming up on the first weekend in May in Grande Prairie.  We have had a number of winners from this region at that prestigious gathering of community-based theatre artists: Misty Oakes, Kenny Jones and yours truly, to name a few.  Yes, the work we do in Fort McMurray stacks up with the best of best from across Alberta.

I encourage you to come out and watch these two one acts and support live theatre in our community.  Who knows, you might get a first glimpse of a future provincial champion.


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