This past Saturday and Sunday I checked out the work being presented at Walterdale Theatre for their annual new One Act Festival, From Cradle to Stage. It is the first year in a while that I have not been involved in the Festival as I had hoped to submit and then didn't and then with Nine on my plate on one end and my University work on my plate on the other end I didn't have time to contribute in another way. The Festival holds a special place in my heart, as it is one of the few ways that 'late emerging' playwrights can get their work produced. The formalized system in place to work with dramaturges (Tracy Carroll and Brian Dooley) has also meant that those playwrights selected for production can get real, concrete help with developing their work. It's a fabulous experience (I went through it a few years ago when I submitted Pieces in 2007) and for someone over 30 who doesn't qualify for Nextfest or who might not be ready to self-produce at Fringe, it fills a gap in the development process.
The two produced shows were quite different from each other, as is often the case. The first, Apocalypse, Saskatchewan by Dion Huel, was a funny piece about three elderly men in a small Saskatchewan town who get carried away with the idea that Zombies are attacking. There were many laughs, and although I feel the piece as written was actually a two-act play (it ran at about 95 minutes) it was well-received. The second, The Carrying by Jennifer Robinson, was a fascinating pieces about two women carrying mysterious bags to an unknown location. An somewhat abstract piece with movement and intentional repetition, it was well-directed and performed and it was one of those plays that you think a lot about afterwards. I quite liked it.
On the Sunday afternoon, the festival wrapped up with readings of the four other finalists. There were 6 finalists selected from a pool of 37 entries. The afternoon demonstrated the wide variety of the submitted plays. Ostensibly staged readings there was also a wide range in the degree of the staged component. The four plays ranged from being pieces about relationships (The Loneliest Number and Magpies) to a modern fable about abuse begetting abuse (Poor Defenseless Creatures) to an historical piece (Mary!). All in all, they were four works in development that will be interesting to watch for in the future.
* These two events mark #21 and #22 in my theatrical goal for the year 2012