It seems I can't stay away from festivals. Play festivals, that is (which, sidenote here, should really involve more traditional "festival" elements: streamers, confetti, [more] libidinous excess, etc.). Love Me and the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity have wrapped up - with some very nice houses and a good review, I might add - and I am in rehearsal for another festival with a play called Laid Plans. This one is a part of The Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival (henceforth, "The SFOOBSPF") and is a mere thirty minutes long, which is good, because it's in concert with several other short pieces in its time slot.
The best part about being a part of a festival is how much gets taken care of for you. You have venue and some basic facility provisions, likely some advertising, more appeal for reviewers to make the trip and a certain amount of additional credibility. I don't know how strictly scripts are vetted from one festival to another, but odds are that plays that have to pass any kind of screening at all are likely to be safer bets for an audience than ones produced solely by the playwright. The worst part about being a part of a festival is the following conversation:
"Hey! I'm seeing your show tonight!"
"Hey! I'm pretty sure you aren't!"
"We don't have a show tonight."
"But it's Friday."
"Yeah, I know. We have one Sunday."
"Oh; okay. A matinee?"
"Sort of. It starts at 2:00."
"I can do that!"
"Two o'clock in the morning?"
"Yeah. Give or take 15 minutes, of course, given that the show before us has to dismantle their lasers before we can even enter the space to set up."
"Hey, don't worry: You can catch my next production."
"Oh good, cool. When does it run?"
"Saturday, July 17, at 9:00. PM. And maybe the next day, depending on how well we do."
Theatre festivals invariably involve some ridiculously tight and erratic scheduling in order to take full advantage of taking over one or more theatres for a few weeks. This has a certain charm when you have the reputation of one of the Fringe festivals, and even in that case it gets pretty confusing pretty fast, and productions still end up having to oblige seats with butts for some impossibly impractical showtimes. Still, they're fun, and there's something pleasing about being a part of something larger in this way. "Larger still," I should say, since being a part of any production is being a part of something more than oneself. Layers upon layers, people...
I've never participated in The SFOOBSPF before, and am looking forward to discovering how it all works. Planet Connections I found to be rather similar to my two FringeNYC experiences (As Far As We Know and La Vigilia) in terms of practical concerns, though generally more focused in purpose and rather better organized--simply because it is less sprawling than the Fringe. The utterly strange thing is the possibility of performing the play only once. It reminds me of high school productions or, more accurately, elementary school ones. It seems an awful lot of work for one, ultimately rather static performance. On the other hand, the stakes for getting a good show off should be nice and motivating.