SEMBACH, Germany -- U.S. Army Installation Management Command Europe Entertainment will present the 2023 One Page Play Festival and Theatre Skills Workshops Oct. 8-10 at the Ansbach Terrace Playhouse in Ansbach, Germany.
Since 1995, U.S. Army IMCOM-Europe Entertainment has presented an annual theater festival to encourage individual and group excellence and participation throughout the Army and U.S. forces Europe community theater programs.
“The festival is designed to provide some unique and valuable training to the Soldiers and family members who volunteer in our theaters,” said Dane Winters, IMCOM-Europe Entertainment program manager. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to find English language theater, much less theater training while living in Germany, Italy or Belgium.”
The 2023 festival will include a One Page Play Writing Workshop, a festival of brand-new plays, an adjudication seminar, a monologue competition, a professional guest show and an awards recognition ceremony.
Victoria Hanrahan, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Entertainment director and director of the Ansbach Terrace Playhouse, explained the One Page Play Festival.
“A few years ago, (the Army Entertainment staff) were exploring ways to not only train our volunteers, but to offer them a chance to really work together and collaborate,” Hanrahan explained. “Thus, the One Page Play Festival was born.”
“It was a big success in two ways,” Hanrahan said. “The Soldiers and their families really enjoyed the collaboration and the creativity of working with each other. On top of that, two of the brand-new plays created were considered by U.S. copyright companies for publication.”
Led by guest workshop leader Paul Bourne, director of Cambridge’s Menagerie Theatre Company in the U.K., the entertainment staff and volunteer participants spend Saturday morning writing new one-page plays. At past festivals, 18 to 25 new plays are created in a few hours. Ten to 12 scripts are selected to be fully produced and staged.
Directors, actors and stage managers are selected, and the plays are rehearsed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The plays are then presented to the public on Sunday.
“It is really amazing what compelling scripts and stories are created by first-time writers in only a matter of hours and only on one piece of paper,” said Jerry Brees, director of Vicenza’s Soldiers’ Theatre. “That surprises me every year.”
Alan Buxkemper, Stuttgart Entertainment director, said he feels the travelling festival offers Soldiers, family members and entertainment staff more than just the chance to write new plays.
"Not only does the festival show off the creative nature of the entertainment volunteers,” Buxkemper said, “it allows them to see other facilities, meet other volunteer participants, and to share creative ideas. Since the One Page Festival began, volunteers have started travelling more to different garrisons to see their new friends in shows.”
This year, the festival will also include the participation of a Broadway and West End, London star.
“Phillip Hernández is the only actor to portrait both ‘Jean Valjean’ and ‘Inspector Javert’ in Les Misérables on Broadway,” said Winters. “He has also appeared in several other New York and London productions.”
Hernández will be present a live, virtual Broadway Master Vocal Class for the participants.
“Four lucky participants will work directly with Phillip on improving their voices and presentations,” Winters explained.
Hernández will also contribute to the annual monologue competition.
“The annual monologue competition, which is always popular, is going to be even more special,” he said. This year’s top monologue winner will not only receive a trophy but will also win a private, one-on-one video coaching session Hernández.
“This is a once in a lifetime chance to get personalized coaching and to learn from a professional Broadway star,” Winters explained.
A seminar on theater adjudication is also scheduled. This three-part seminar will be led by two professional adjudicators from the American Association of Community Theatre
“I want the staff and volunteers to understand what theater adjudication is, how it works and the philosophy of adjudication,” Winters said.
“By understanding the different theories and approaches to adjudication, they better understand that it isn’t necessarily a matter of the ‘best’ show or ‘best’ performance,” he explained. “It is the question of which show, or performance tells a playwright’s story most truthfully and in the most impactful way.
“We are excited about this year’s professional showcase production,” Winters said. “Showcase productions provide our volunteers a chance to experience professional theater up close and personal and interact with real professionals. It is an excellent learning experience for them.”
“Nan, Me & Barbara Pravi” is a one-woman show written by Hannah Maxwell, a professional performance artist based in London.
Set in 2021, the show tells of when Maxwell moved back to the English countryside to care for her recently bereaved grandmother.
In between cooking, cleaning and caring for her Nan, Hannah escapes into a fantasy world of the Eurovision Song Contest, heartfelt ballads, ballroom dances and the French Eurovision star, Barbara Pravi. It is also an exploration of grief, loss, addiction, recovery, life and hope.
“Hannah presented her first one-woman show at our 2021 festival,” Winters said. “She premiered this new show at the Edinburgh Festival last August and received rave, five-star reviews. We are so fortunate she is joining us again.”
“Nan, Me & Barbara Pravi” is open to the public. It is appropriate for those 16 years of age and up, includes audience participation and addresses distressing or potentially triggering themes related to addiction.
All festival performances, events and activities are open and free to the public (13 years of age and up.)
A complete schedule and more information is available at www.ArmyEuropeEntertainment.com or https://www.armymwr.com/ArmyEuropeEntertainment/our-entertainment-programs-and-events.