SEMBACH, Germany – Theater programs from U.S. Army Garrisons Ansbach and Wiesbaden took top awards Oct. 9 at the conclusion of the 27th annual One-Act Play Festival and YouthFEST ’22.
Led by Installation Management Command Europe’s G9 Army Entertainment, the event brought together community theaters from across Europe at USAG Ansbach’s Terrace Playhouse.
A panel of professional adjudicators selected the USAG Ansbach Terrace Playhouse youth production of “Death Takes the Train” by D.M. Larson as the outstanding YouthFEST show. USAG Wiesbaden’s Amelia Earhart Playhouse’s one-act play, “Medea” by Christopher Durang, was named the best one-act play.
Both garrison theater programs will have the opportunity to represent the U.S. Army and Army Entertainment at the 2023 American Association of Community Theatre National Play Festival and Youth Festival, to be held in June 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky.
“U.S. Army Entertainment programs, as Region X of AACT, have competed in the national festival since 1997,” said Dane Winters, IMCOM Europe Entertainment program manager. “Our shows have always done very well at national festivals, winning several awards and bringing our program a lot of national attention.”
This was the first time the festival was held in the Ansbach community. Ansbach and the theater staff did a terrific job of hosting the festival, Winters said.
Victoria Hanrahan, Ansbach Entertainment director, appreciated the opportunity to host the annual event. “It was great to show off our facility, program and garrison,” she said.
USAG Ansbach’s interim senior military enlisted leader, 1st Sgt. Maurice S. Hendrixson, welcomed a full house Oct. 7. “It is a real pleasure to welcome this annual event to our garrison,” he said.
Army Entertainment programs from Vicenza, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, SHAPE and Ansbach participated in the festival, as well an Air Force theater group from Ramstein.
The festival included seven one-act plays in a one-act competition and two youth productions as part of YouthFEST ’22.
“YouthFEST productions are shows that are selected, produced, directed and performed by youth 18 years and younger in our military communities,” Winters said.
The weekend also included a monologue competition and 14 theater skills workshops including stage combat, acting, singing, auditioning, dance and others.
Since 1995, Army Europe Entertainment has produced this festival every year on Columbus Day weekend.
“We produce the festival to first recognize and honor exceptional theatrical achievement in U.S. Army Entertainment programs throughout Europe,” Winters said. “There is really some remarkable theater going on in the programs.
Festival educational opportunities are designed to enhance the resiliency and readiness of Soldiers, civilians and family members in our community.
“The workshops and the feedback from professional theater artists, help them hone and develop life and personal skills while working with program participants from across Europe" Winters said. “The festival is also a way for us to thank the many community members who give thousands of hours of volunteer hours putting on live theater events in their communities.”
The festival culminated in a surprise-filled, awards event on Sunday at the Von Steuben Community Center.
USAG Ansbach Commander Col. Aaron B. Dixon welcomed the crowd and helped hand out awards.
IMCOM Europe Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher D. Truchon, also welcomed the participants and thanked Dixon for hosting the historic festival.
“This festival is part of the rich tradition of Army Entertainment,” Truchon said. “Our military communities are better places to live with the opportunities our Army Entertainment programs provide Soldiers, civilians, retirees and their families.”
The crowd was also welcomed by a surprise appearance from multiple Tony Award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In a prerecorded video, Miranda thanked the Army Entertainment staff for supporting their garrison communities. He also had a special message for the youth of the festival.
“Theater and performing is so incredibly important to young people. It was to me,” he said. “I am thrilled Army Entertainment put together the YouthFEST for kids to hone their skills and show off their talents while having fun together. Along the way, they build confidence; learn how to work together; support each other; and, hopefully, realize they are special and unique. Because they are!”
During the awards show, U.S. Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment was presented an AACT National Spotlight Award by Quiana Clark-Roland, AACT executive director.
“This honor is in recognition of not only the staff’s support of their communities,” Clark-Roland said, “but also for their dedication to outstanding and innovative international theater.”
Complete festival information, awards results and official photos can be found at: U.S. Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment One Act Play Festival and YouthFEST '22.