The College of the Canyons Theatre and English department presented their 12th annual New Works Festival at the Black Box Theatre. The festival featured original short plays that were submitted last semester and then selected by the Theatre and English committee to be performed at the spring festival.
Director David Stears said that the committee generally looks for pieces that are “interesting, has a basic understanding of structure, character and dialogue.” During the spring semester, the playwrights then participate in the rehearsal process to further perfect their work in the rewriting stage of the semester.
For the first half of the semester the actors read through the plays while the playwrights listened and rewrote their work. Then, the second half of the semester was spent with the actors rehearsing and the playwrights watched their work “come to life,” said Stears. He also added that the festival “is very much a workshop environment,” and “things are changing every day, sometimes lines and text, sometimes the approach to the text.”
The plays ranged from comical to dramatic, quirky to profound, all consisting of interesting stories and characters. The works were thorough in thought and mindful of their theme. Despite the limited amount of time with each show, the stories came full circle consisting of a beginning, middle, end, and contained all the basic storyline structures. Each scene created an environment so there was no need for elaborate sets. The actors appeared in multiple plays and every actor adapted to each new role quickly and they were fully engaged in their character and the world of the each particular play.
College of the Canyons New Works Festival is the only festival in the country that publishes their collection of plays. The selections from the 2001 and 2008 New Works Festival are available on Amazon, where the earnings go to the New Works Festival and the activities involved.
Overall, the festival this year was fully engaging with its compelling collection of plays presented by wonderful actors who gave strong and insightful performances, adding to the totality of the festival.