Warwickshire One-Act Play Festival  Why Enter?
Why Enter? The following is reproduced with the kind permision of Colin Dolley:   Why Don’t We Enter A Festival? Perhaps in your society a lone voice asks rather tentatively: “Why don’t we enter a Drama Festival next year?” Is this query greeted with enthusiasm or talked down with such responses as: “Festivals are all pay out and nothing in return” or “We’re happy as we are.” “Our audiences love our productions.” “We don’t need anybody to tell us how good we are!” “What would we get out of it anyway?” “All that work for one night!” How often have such responses silenced that lone voice? Clearly some arguments are required to melt the icy responses from the committee: Festivals provide an exciting learning experience. There should be helpful, constructive comments from a well-qualified, independent adjudicator – unlike family and friends on home territory. In addition to the adjudicator’s constructive assessment, much will be learnt by watching other festival entries – facets of production, staging, lighting, effects, plays, acting technique, introductory music etc. All this provides funded experience and can be called upon for any future productions. By entering the festival, each society becomes part of the festival that means measuring up with other enthusiasts who share the love of theatre. That insularity which, regrettably, is a feature of many local societies is broken down. Within a short while, teams often become friends and not rivals – and from such friendships practical help may well emerge. Many societies have a regular programme of home productions that must, of necessity be audience pullers. This is understandable, but to grow artistically your actors need to keep fresh by trying new, unusual or less accessible plays. This is where the festival can come into its own. Get out of the boulevard comedy rut and try a Beckett, Orton, Pinter or Tennessee Williams, try the unknown play, the original play, the compilation of poetry, words and music. There are so many possibilities. Maybe there are those who wish to direct for the first time or there is an influx of new untried members. Why not allow them to flex their creative muscles at the drama festival? They will learn so much and that can only benefit the whole society in succeeding years. The production may only make one appearance – although if there is another festival in the area it could be entered there as well – but some actors, for personal reasons, may prefer the one night stand rather than a week-long run in the home production. I have not in these arguments for entering a festival, listed: to win the festival trophy! In my experience teams who are desperate to win rarely succeed; a sense of frenzied angst is apparent and the production is nervous, tense and uneasy. However, should the production do well, then the success can be used in publicity material through local press, radio and in future programmes – all adding to the kudos of the group. Having used these arguments for entering a festival, your lone voice may still have to quell the strident voice of the Treasurer! Yes, it does cost money, but surely it is money well spent, an investment into the future development of the group. The profits from the money-spinning home production could go to finance the festival play. If the committee is forward-looking it might well say “We’ll give it a try next year.” That decision could well be a pivotal point in the history of your society. Perhaps we will meet some day … Colin Dolley
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