On Saturday, February 14, 2015, The Long Beach Playhouse will host the American Association of Community Theatre’s (AACT) 2015 California State Festival (AACTFest) for the first time the festival has been held in five years. The last CA AACTFest was in Sacramento in 2009.
Theatre groups from across California have been preparing and rehearsing for months, in the hopes of wowing adjudicators, who will present their constructive criticism after each group’s 60-minute performance during this one-day event. Theatre groups will vie for the title of this year’s AACTFest State winner, but not without connecting and celebrating what they all have in common: a passion for community theatre.
While the Playhouse has extensive experience with hosting festivals, including the 24-Hour Theatre Festival and a New Works Festival, hosted annually, the AACTFest in February is a chance to broaden participation to groups outside of Southern California, as well as the scope of the productions involved. This is the Playhouse’s first major collaboration with AACT.
“AACT has many member theatres in California, but our state is one of the few in the nation that does not have a long standing tradition of State Festivals… We polled some of the outstanding theatres across the state and the Playhouse said they were game for it. We had some meetings and they wowed us with their energy, their focus and their commitment to help bring the Fest tradition to California. Working with them has been truly exciting,” said Gil Savage, AACT’s Region VIII Representative, in a press statement.
As part of the Playhouse’s Collaborative Series, the AACTFest will offer outside theatre companies and other performing arts organizations opportunity to produce in the Playhouse's Studio Theater. The Fest fits in a schedule of rehearsals, workshops, productions, adjudication and an evening awards banquet into an entire day. Sounds overwhelming, but not for Andrew Vonderschmitt, Executive and Producing Artistic Director.
“The initial difference between our regular production schedule (and AACTFest) is, obviously, time. But we have extensive experience in hosting outside companies and artists with our Collaborative Season each year. We are always up to a fast-paced challenge and actually look forward to them,” stated Vonderschmitt.
The festival is only held in odd-numbered years and presents a forum for community theatres from AACT’s 10 regions to enter productions for adjudication and advancement from the state level to the regional level, then to the national level. The Playhouse holds the honor of hosting this passionate competition for the sake of the rare chance to connect and celebrate community theatre.
“We’re very excited to host the AACTFest this year. Not only is it right up our alley and serves our mission, but it’s just such a fun prospect. We are going to strive to make visiting theaters feel at home, welcomed and challenged over the course of the one-day festival. This is an incredible opportunity for the Playhouse and an honor to be involved with AACT in any we can,” said Vonderschmitt in a press statement.
Theatres interested in participating should contact Andrew at the Long Beach Playhouse. Tickets to performances are available through the Playhouse website and box office. There are also sponsorship opportunities for local businesses and individuals who want to support the Fest.
Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 East Anaheim Street.