On August 25 and 26, Don and I were privileged to see and hear three plays that had never been seen before, plays that were “under construction,” new plays read by professional actors and prepared with the guidance of professional directors and dramaturgs. We were in the audience for ACTONE, a festival of new plays produced by ACT Theatre and One Coast Collaboration, presenting four new plays for their first audience (we arrived too late to see the first play, so we saw only three.)
The idea of the festival was so new to me that I asked Samie Detzer, Artistic and Executive Manager at ACT and part of the producing team, for some background information. She said that the festival is “all about creating an environment rich with creative opportunities. The ACTONE Festival created an opportunity for actors, directors, and playwrights to spend time working together over the course of four days, 29 hours, while being embraced by the whole ACT community, and creating an atmosphere for collaboration from top to bottom!”
This was ACT’s first venture with the festival that our partner, One Coast Collaboration (OCC), had started nine years ago. Michael Place began OCC as an opportunity to bring nationally recognized playwrights to Seattle to work in an environment that was welcoming and warm. The first 8 years were hosted in the backyard of Michael’s family home in Wedgewood. ACT Theatre’s partnership with OCC expanded on that initial idea and created a festival where new plays could find their legs, and hopefully lead to a mainstage production. The multi-space use of the ACT building was integral to the community-oriented spirit of the festival. Workshop days were open to staff, and people from the community were invited to come to readings. Each rehearsal day had a built-in happy hour so that all artists had a chance to connect and unwind together after a full day of work.
The festival ended with the four readings over two days. For performers, the readings were one last opportunity to connect after the 29 hours of workshop time; playwrights heard their plays read out loud in a supportive and fun environment; and the audience –well, we had our opportunity too, to be the first audience for a performance that, who knows, might someday grace the mainstages of the most important theatres in the country!