September 21, 2006
Festival offers community players a chance to learn from the pros
By Heidi Masek email@example.com
There are more than 50 community theater groups in New Hampshire. That’s a lot. Community troupes give stage-crazy local amateurs a venue, but once a year the New Hampshire Community Theatre Association gives them a chance to push themselves further.
The 35th New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts in Milford, offers a challenge. Companies have ten minutes to set up, an hour to perform and ten minutes to break down their set. Then the cast gets to hear three theater professionals analyze them. Two of the ten groups participating this year will be chosen to represent the state at a March New England Regional Festival of Community Theatre, which NHCTA is hosting.
“When we say it’s a competition, the only person you’re competing against is yourself up on that stage,” said Sally Nutt, NHCTA president, running the festival for the first time this year.
“It’s a festival. Festival means party,” Nutt said. It’s the cornerstone of the association, which has a mission to be an “education and support network for all the theaters in addition to having fun.”
But it’s not just for theater folk, Nutt said. As an audience member, listening to the judges is interesting, too.
Kevin Gardner, a Shakespeare instructor at St. Paul’s School in Concord is returning as an adjudicator this year. He’s adjudicated national festivals and has worked with NHPR. He’s also an expert on stone walls. Genevieve Aichele, co-founder and artistic director of the New Hampshire Theatre Project in Portsmouth and Lynn Kremer, drama professor at Holy Cross in Massachusetts round out the panel.
“To have somebody who does that for a living to be able to coach us, that encourages us all to raise the bar,” Nutt said.
Each judge will offer a workshop that the public is welcome to join. Workshops cost only $5 and performances $10—or you can buy a pass for the weekend for only $25.
Nutt has been told this is the largest number of entries to the festival in recent history. There are 22 community theater companies in the association.
“I think it just speaks to that need to communicate,” Nutt said.
Although applying for the festival pretty much guarantees your company a spot, somehow they manage to get a good mix, Nutt said. There’s comedy, serious drama, Shakespeare, new work, simple and complex sets, young and veteran performers, a one-man show and a cast of 23.
Here’s the skinny on at the 35th New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts, Route 13 in Milford. Tickets are at nhcommunitytheatre.com and at the door.
Saturday, Sept. 30
9-10:15 a.m. “A Physical Approach to Acting” with Genevieve Aichele: workshop on “creating and enhancing emotional depth, character relationships and text meaning through physical characterization, tempo and staging.”
10:30-11:45 a.m. “Using Your Voice” with Lynn Kremer: workshop on “proper breath support, hyper- and hypo-nasality, projection, articulation, regionalism, phrasing, and vocal variety.”
Noon performance session #1
Rising Star Productions, Newton Junction: The Diary of Adam and Eve by Charles Whitman, directed by Dan Baulieu.
Manchester Community Players: Surviving Evil, written by Tom Anastasi, directed by Alan Kaplan.
Milford Area Players: I Hate Hamlet, by Paul Rudnick, directed by Mike Wood.
6 p.m. performance session #2
My Act, Merrimack: Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, directed by Timothy L’Ecuyer.
Nashua Theatre Guild: Perfectly Good Airplanes, by Stephan LaRoque, directed by Jerry White.
Ghostlight Theatre, Salem: One Flea Spare, by Naomi Wallace, directed by John Sefel.
Sunday, Oct. 1
10-11:15 a.m. “Using Games in the Audition Process” with Kevin Gardner: workshop.
11:30 a.m. performance session #3
Actors Circle, Peterborough: Sure Thing, by David Ives, directed by Mariah Herlihy.
SKIT, Sunapee: Speaking in Tongues, by Andrew Bovell, directed by Mary Morris.
ActorSingers, Nashua: I Never Saw Another Butterfly, by Celeste Raspanti, directed by Amy Friedman.
Franklin Footlight Theatre: Laundry & Bourbon, by James McLure, directed by Ethan Murphy.
5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres and cash bar.
6 p.m. awards dinner with Van McLeod, commissioner of NH Department of Cultural Resources. Dinner catered by Elisha’s Restaurant
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Proud of the Peacock
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Reviving His Passion
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Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
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