September 11, 2008

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Stage sports
Granite State theater groups compete
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Community theater companies that are willing to hear what professionals have to say about them have the chance to show off each fall. They can bring something new, or pull from one of their full productions to compete in the New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre.

In its 37th year, it takes place over two days at the Amato Center in Milford, Saturday, Sept. 27, and Sunday, Sept. 28.

Each group has 60 minutes to perform plus 10 minutes for setup and 10 minutes for breakdown of their set and props. Nine theater companies entered this year.

Every two years, the event feeds into a regional festival that, in turn, feeds a national community theater festival. Having nine entries allows New Hampshire to choose two to send to the regional in Groton, Mass., in March.

The only other thing in the state that’s somewhat comparable is the New Hampshire Theatre Awards, Mariah Sefel said. That trains volunteers from each participating professional and community group to judge other performances. Dozens are entered.

Sefel has either directed or stage managed or produced for competing companies in past years. As president of the New Hampshire Community Theatre Association this year, she’s a festival co-chair.

“The nice thing about this one is [that the] same three adjudicators are looking at all the shows,” Sefel said about the community festival. The adjudicators give their assessment directly after each performance. That means everyone gets to learn from each entry, Sefel said. The audience and participants can see each performance at this one. At the Theatre Awards ceremony, the winning and nominated shows are usually long over.

The theater professionals who adjudicate also run workshops both mornings of the festival. All three adjudicated in the past. “It’s a nice variety,” Sefel said.

Genevieve Aichele is the artistic director of the New Hampshire Theatre Project. PeggyRae Johnson is a theater professor at Keene State College and Franklin Pierce University. Rick Lombardo is soon leaving Massachusetts to take over the role of artistic director of the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

The workshops are open to the public and participants. One’s on directing, another is on using your voice and the other on using your body, Sefel said. “It’s really nice to be able to offer to public that,” she said.

Lombardo will teach “Directing Actors to their Best Work.” PeggyRae Johnson presents “Making Sound AND Sense: Exploring Vocal Choices.” Aichele offers “Creating Character: The Physical Actor.”

Sefel said it’s been a great experience working with the adjudicators as well as the American Association of Community Theatre. The organization has been “extremely helpful,” she said. For example, they helped take care of finding the author and rights for a piece that one of the groups wanted to use.


Being judged
What: New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre
When: Saturday, Sept. 27, and Sunday, Sept. 28
Competitors: Saturday, at 1:30 p.m.: Manchester Community Players produce Surviving Evil: The Holocaust Though The Story of Stephan H. Lewy; Community Players of Concord present Dinner for One; The Acting Loft teens present Rhinoceros, by Eugene Ionesco. Dinner break, followed at 7 p.m. by Nashua Theatre Guild’s production of Dinner With Friends; and Milford Area Players’ The Party Guest. Sunday sessions starts at 1 p.m. with the Resort Players of Mt. Washington’s performance of Shirley Valentine; Franklin Footlight’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; the Actorsingers produce Vital Signs; and Ghostlight Theater Company of New England will perform short plays. Awards follow.
Workshops: Saturday at 9 a.m. “Directing Actors To Their Best Work,” and at 10:45 a.m., “Making Sound and Sense: Exploring Vocal Choices.” Sunday at 10 a.m. is “Creating Character: The Physical Actor.”
Where: Amato Center of Performing Arts, 56 Mont Vernon Road in Milford
Tickets: $10 per session, $5 per workshop, or $25 for access to everything.
Contact: Call 930-9536 or visit www.nhcommunitytheatre.com.

Fringetastic
What: Second annual New England Fringe Festival
When and where: Thursday, Sept. 25, through Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theater, 539 Tremont St., Boston; and Thursday, Oct. 2, through Saturday, Oct. 4, at the 14 Court St. Theater in Nashua.
Fringing: The audience votes for their favorites at this relatively new event produced by Atlantis Playmakers, based in Burlington, Mass. All kinds of performance can register, including dance, comedy, music, theater and clowning. In its second year, NEFF saw fewer groups register for the Nashua stage. “I’m not sure exactly what happened,” said organizer Kimberly Davis Basso. Some improv groups might be at a comedy festival in Lowell happening at the same time. NEFF moved their dates, this year, hoping that New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre competitors would bring their entries to the NEFF. Each show is expected to be 40 minutes long for Fringe.
NEFF was held at Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall in 2007, plus Court Street. Basso said the move to the BCA means a higher profile, but NEFF could fit fewer acts there for 2008. She hopes to use more BCA spaces in 2009.
Nashua acts: Atlantis Playmakers presents FIGHT!!! Episode V: Return of the Jed-Pie (www.AtlantisPlaymakers.com); Traveling Rose Theatre Company presents three short plays in “Unbalanced,” written and performed by Michael Molineaux and Amy Laffin; Sonar Dance presents “Miscellaneous Madness” (www.sonardance.com). Shows start at 8 p.m. on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, and at 2 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 4.
Contact: Read more about NEFF acts in Nashua and get the Boston schedule at www.nefringefestival.com. Also call (978) 667-0550.
Tickets: $10-$20.

 

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