It you're the type of person who longs to dance at the Waldorf Astoria on New Year's Eve, you would have been right at home attending Power Plays, which packed Stage One, KWLT's black box theatre, March 28-30. All 165 available seats were reserved well in advance of opening night, prompting organizers to plan to expand the format for next year.
Those lucky enough to have nabbed seats were treated to nine plays of diverse styles, including the frenetic Wild Abandon by Daniel McIvor, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, a clever ``Glass Menagerie'' parody by Christopher Durang, the very funny Brenda and Jerry (from Lovers and Other Strangers) by Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor, and, bookending the festival, two different productions of Hello Out There, a drama by William Saroyan. We were fortunate enough to view two premieres at Power Plays: Red, an hilarious comedy by Sean Furfaro, and Jake and Anita, by E. J. Powell, which chronicled the bittersweet reunion of two lovers. While most of the plays featured just two or three actors, And the Air Didn't Answer, by Robert Kerr, and the disturbing No Why, an absurdist play by John Whiting, allowed us to see fine ensemble casts in action. And, as if this weren't entertainment enough, the inimitable Rod Carley again served as the festival's adjudicator, dissecting each play, showing us what made it tick and why.
It was clear -- this man had done his homework. Before launching into specific criticism of a play, Mr. Carley carefully set the stage for us: citing other works by the playwright, discussing contemporaneous plays and films, and describing the social and political climates from which they arose. Then he proceeded to discuss all elements of the play: the set, the lighting and sound, the performances and directorial choices, never offering a criticism without suggesting a solution, couching his advice with humour and compassion. His insightful comments, delivered in a breezy, hit-and-run style, had audience members chuckling and nodding in agreement.
At the end of each evening, those involved in the three featured plays were invited back into the theatre for more indepth adjudication. Participants were encouraged to ask questions and bounce ideas off the adjudicator.
Some festival highlights:
We already have plans in the works for the next Power Plays, in April, 1997. Look to see previews the week preceding the adjudication. In addition, Rod Carley (yes, he's already planning to return next year!) has agreed to select three plays and workshop them on the final Sunday afternoon. KWLT hopes to then present this Power Plays ``Party Pack'' the following Thursday through Saturday.
To cap off the festival, KWLT hosted an awards Gala on Sunday, March 31. We again packed the theatre with contestants and hangers on, feeding them crudités and punch, while we awaited the arrival of Mr. Carley. Ten awards, beautiful stained glass statuettes, bearing the category and date, were presented to the participants whom Rod deemed outstanding. In his closing remarks, Rod Carley stated the true success of Power Plays lay not in generating competition and selecting the ``best'', but in creating an opportunity for actors and directors to practise and home their craft. We hope all involved are in agreement.
Thanks to all those who worked so hard to make Power Plays happen: Paul McKone for filling in as Technical Director through to the bitter end and for the great awards, Dawn Miles for slogging away on the publicity -- a thankless job if ever there was one, Joanne Mathon for organizing the gala (and cutting all those vegetables!),
and the many loyal crew who have been soldering, drywalling, wiring and painting in order to ensure the show goes on.