Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on the 2007 NVTA One Act Festival

By • Jun 12th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, NVTA

Listen to Mike talk with Zina Bleck and Deb Crawford, co-chairs of the 2007 NVTA One Act Festival [MP3 11:52 3.4MB].

Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio and I am talking with the co-chairs of the 2007 NVTA One Act Festival, Zina Bleck and Deb Crawford. Thank you very much for talking with me.

Deb: Thank you for having us.

Mike: Start off with the very basics. What is the NVTA One Act Festival?

Zina: This is actually the 26th year the festival has been in existence. It is a forum to stage both original and previously published works. NVTA is an organization that has support from various groups in the DC metropolitan area, from Virginia, Maryland, and DC. The goal there is to get groups together so they can share information, share resources, and generally help each other out. The festival grew out of that organization as a way to also share art. And you don’t get one acts done very much. You really can’t do them very easily during the regular season. The festival was created. It’s an opportunity to for people to take a chance, do something a little different.

Deb: It also gives them the opportunity to allow the members of the groups to have another avenue of expression through the support of the original work. Plus a lot of the groups will use it as a forum to try out new directors. If they have somebody with a little less experience, sometimes they might want to try them out directing a one act play as opposed to directing a full main stage production.

Zina: It is also a timed event where there are awards given. The way the timing works is you’re given ten minutes to put up the set. The performance has to be no less than twenty minutes, but no more than sixty minutes in length. Then you have no more than five minutes to put your set away or tear it down. Any one of those that exceeds the timing will disqualify you from participation and receiving an award.

Deb: Also it’s a nice opportunity for everyone to get together and see each other which happens so rarely around here. We’re all so busy with our schedules.

Mike: The theaters that seem to be involved seem to be a pretty wide range. You’ve got children’s theater with Pied Piper, then you’ve got a lot of the bigger name community theaters. Is that on purpose?

Deb: It’s a little bit of everything. The festival is open to all theater groups in the area, whoever wants to participate. We don’t bar them based on any criteria as far as who their core members are or who they cater towards as far as the children’s theater or as you said some of the bigger community theater names in the area. The festival prides itself on trying to be as inclusive as possible.

Mike: Does the one act format help the smaller theaters and you’ve also got the time limit you were talking about. They don’t have to have a really elaborate set. They’re all pretty simple from what I’ve seen.

Deb: We encourage simplicity as far as the sets are concerned because of the space limitations because you do have something you have to set up in a short period of time. And then tear down even faster. The festival really likes to have you concentrate on the meat of the play. To get your story across and tell it as effectively as possible and to use simple and innovative sets to tell the story.

Zina: It also gives the actors and actresses who have a lot of family commitments and can’t commit to a full run of a full length show the chance to practice their art. I know several people who really enjoy participating in the festival as their forum for that.

Mike: It seems like a lot of the shows only had two people in them and then a couple of the shows I saw on Saturday night had eight people in it. You also have a wide range on participation.

Deb: There’s no set limit on the number of people who can be involved. We’ve had one man shows and we’ve had shows that have had fifteen or eighteen people in the cast. That’s up to the group what they feel is going to best represent them. Or a piece that they wish to present for whatever reason. There’s no limitation on the number of people who can participate in a production. Again, that’s giving the artistic freedom to the group to decide how they want to participate.

Mike: Looking back at past productions that have been done, is there usually a type of show that does better. Like comedy versus dramas?

Deb: Not really. Given the fact that there are different judges every year, you can’t really point to a trend that way. Every year is different. Really what the judges tend to do is exactly what they should be doing. Rewarding the quality of the production, not necesarily whether it’s a specific genre.

Zina: It’s not so much a matter of how big your set is or how many people you have on stage, but the forum really lets the judges focus on the quality of the actual production.

Mike: So Zina, what is your role as co-chair? What type things have you been involved in getting the festival ready?

Zina: I’ve been focusing on sending out the forms. Communicating with the various groups and getting their information. We do have four different forms that come in at various times throughout from January through May. Also sharing with the groups with the scheduling, when is tech night, that sort of thing. I tend to handle more of the front end before we move into the theater aspect of the show.

Mike: And Deb, what do you do?

Deb: I am interacting more with the facilities person at the Lee Center. David Shurr initially. Then I will be covering all of the technical rehearsals for the groups and working with the groups as they arrive for their tech rehearsals and their performances. I will also be helping out as far as arranging things for the reception part of the award ceremony. Zina and I are working together on the presentation and the entertainment portion of the awards.

Zina: Plus both of us do whatever else may be needed from pouring sodas to putting out cookies to finding a lost name badge. You name it. We do it.

Deb: And backing each other up and helping out wherever needed. Falling into the “any other duties as assigned” category that most people have involved in their jobs.

Mike: So is there a lot of other people? Is there a committee or a group of people or is it just the two of you that work on this?

Deb: It’s basically just the two of us and whoever we can wrangle in to help us out as needed, as we’re moving along.

Zina: This year Gavin Tameris is the treasurer for NVTA. He is running the box office. Robbie Snow, who is a regular with the Providence Players, is the House Manager. Then we had various group bring ushers to help us out. Nancy Owens, who has been a wonderful life saver, has been running the light board for everybody. Along with David Shurr who works there and Matt Ward who also works there. They have both been helping out tremendously as well.

Deb: Then we’ve also had our back stage crew of Don Petersen who is our main timer. Mary Brick who has been back up timer and jumping in and helping wherever we have needed her. Jared Baker has been our backstage manager. He makes certain that he helps out with spiking of the sets and handling the curtains and making certain that everything is flowing smoothly backstage.

Zina: Anita Gardiner is president of NVTA. Bruce Folmer is president Emeritus. They both provide support as well. Bruce in particular focuses on finding judges every year.

Mike: In your opinion how did the first weekend go? Smoothly or lots of bumps?

Deb: We’ve had one or two little bumps a long the way, but the groups have been great. They have been very supportive of one another and have worked well within the rules of the festival.

Zina: It’s been neat to see people from the community come in who aren’t necessarily affiliated with any of the groups performing because of course reaching out to the community and getting them a chance to share in this experience with us is also something special.

Deb: Again I really enjoy watching everybody getting to talk to each other. People from Manassas getting to talk to someone from Alexandria or wherever. They all hear about each other and every now and then they see each other’s shows. They get to talk in a relaxed environment and share what shows are coming up and what’s going on. There’s a lot of that kind of talking and sharing going on.

Mike: NVTA also does a scholarship each year at the festival. Can you tell me a litttle about that?

Zina: There are two scholarships. Each one of them is worth $1,000. One is for a performing scholarship and the other is technical. The technical can be any of several aspects. An applicant would either submit a set design, a costume design or a lighting design. There will be one winner in each category for 2007 that will be introduced at the annual ceremony. The awards ceremony is on Sunday the 17th. We have refreshments starting at 6 and the actual ceremony starting at 7.

Both winners will be there to display their work. Kelly Glift is the lady who did win the perfoming scholarship. Helen McCarthy won the technical scholarship. In her case it was for set design. We’re going to have her get up in front of everyone during the awards ceremony and express how she came up with her design and have her share that.

Deb: Kelly will be doing her monologue and song that she did for her audition piece.

Mike: Very good. That’s exciting.

Zina: That is open to the public. If somebody wants to come. It’s $10 for a ticket and they can contact the number on the website or come to the festival and buy a ticket then for the ceremony.

Mike: Something else that I think is new; you’re doing a matine on this Saturday?

Deb: That’s actually not new. There’s always been the possibility of matinees. We afford for up to 18 shows to perform in the festival. We can have up to six sessions being Friday and Saturday evening sessions, and the two Saturday matinee sesions as well. In the past we have tended to have at least one matinee session. Last year with the festival moving to the Lee Center for the first time. While we had a very good turnout of groups, we had a few fewer than we had in the past which did not allow us to have matinee sessions last year.

Zina: And we are looking forward to doing the festival again next year. It looks like it will be the same time period. We will have to finalize that, but it looks like next year the second and third weekends in June. We look forward to another NVTA One Act Festival.

Mike: Wonderful. If theater groups want to join NVTA they should just contact you through the website?

Zina: Yes, you can always give me a call at 703-615-6626 and let me know you’re interested.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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