COMIC, cosmic and confronting, the 14 plays that competed in Foster Amateur Music and Drama Association’s 10th One-Act Play Festival over the weekend provided audiences with a wide range of theatrical experiences and actors of all ages with many interpretive ways of expressing playwrights’ messages.
A cumulative crowd of young people gave adjudicator Gay Gaye plenty of choice for the Most Outstanding Youth Performance and the Victorian Drama League Encouragement Award, which went respectively to Latrobe Theatre Company’s Shelby Fisher (the teacher Miss Quackenbush in the polished Laffin School) and Leongatha Lyric Theatre’s Michael Dixon for his portrayal of Oliver in The Droitwich Discovery.
Leongatha Lyric Theatre also did well in the open awards with Ivan Koetsveld taking out the Adjudicator’s Choice for his interpretation of Terry Shakespeare, the over-looked and plagiarised brother of the famous William, and the production also winning Most Outstanding Design.
However Hartwell Players won the cream of the awards with Fur Better or Worse, lapping up Most Outstanding Production, Most Outstanding Director (Laura Bradley) and Most Outstanding Male Actor (James Shaw, for his fluid performance as the cat Felix).
A Dog’s Life by Frankston Theatre Group was another play in which animals observed and analysed humans with a mix of pathos and humour.
It deservedly ran off with Most Outstanding Play – runner-up award.
A menacing, knife-edged performance of the assassin Daphne in Waiting for Doggett scored Pop Culture’s Genya Mik the award for Most Outstanding Female Actor.
Adjudicating the Festival for the second year running, Ms Gaye again engaged the audience by sketching an analytical framework that people could use for making an intelligent analysis of performances for reasons beyond simple entertainment.
Given the serious issues of life choices juggled by angels and mothers in Lost, a harsh return to the 2009 bushfires in FAMDA’s Living on the Edge, and the raw anger of a dysfunctional family in Separating the Dust, there was plenty for viewers to digest.
At the end of each session, Ms Gaye gave a constructive run down of each play – providing specific praise and suggestions for actors, characterisation, sets, directors, costumes and use of stage space.
Her direct and educational encouragement of the young actors gave them all confidence and avenues for future theatrical exploration, which appeared to positively boost the actors from Drama Queens and Thrillers, which are groups specifically for disengaged youth in East Gippsland.
Toora Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank was the major sponsor of the awards, however a long list of local businesses were also thanked for their practical support of the Festival, which brought a large number of people into the area to stay overnight.
The Festival also provides a special opportunity to locals such as Ruth Carson who somewhat apprehensively saw her play Living on the Edge have its first public performance under the inaugural direction of Jan Bull.