One Act Play Festivals - what am I looking for?
This is in no way meant to be a definite list.
We all have our own pet aspects of a performance which we look for above others; I guess we each attend to certain things more than others and below (and in no particular order) are mine. When (if!?) you read this, you would undoubtedly ask yourself "He missed one!" Well, we can't attend to everything.
Not all will apply in equal measure (or maybe, even at all) to certain pieces and performances but depending on the piece, some will have greater levels of importance, of significance.
The following are therefore what I consider as statements of achievement, themes, outcomes which should be the product of a well selected piece, with a well-chosen cast and benefiting from the insight and skills of an experienced director.
- The first duty of an actor is to be heard. Did they succeed?
- Is there a sense of achievement, a worth in the doing?
- Is there a clear appreciation of storytelling and is it depicted and delivered effectively and moreover, in a manner which interests and engages until the end?
- Is there evidence that the piece has been understood by both director and performers and if a question is posed by it, has it been answered and with clarity?
- Is there an appreciation and a feel for speech, structure and form in the dialogue?
- Put simply, is a sense of drama created?
- Does the piece and its performance put things, people, positions at stake?
- Do we readily accept the pretence presented and do we have no difficulty in buying into it?
- Are the performers comfortable, at ease with themselves and with the who, what, where, when and why of their characters?
- Is there an understanding of the era and an appreciation of its impact on language, delivery, deportment, bearing, relationships, attitudes, class, position?
- Is there success in the use of dialect and accents?
- Are all the characters sufficiently and consistently formed and interesting enough to hold the attention of the observer?
- Are emotions credibly represented, created, maintained?
- Do we appreciate the wants of the characters, their place, their justification and purpose in the story?
- Does the dialogue have a conversational quality which flows naturally, with spontaneity, realism and an air of happening for the first time before us?
- Therefore, are relationships, credible, consistent, congruous?
- Do the characters develop, change, evolve, resolve?
- Do they each contribute, add value and purpose to the whole?
- Do we go on a journey and as an audience, do we feel a part of it?
- Does the journey (storytelling) deliver, entertain, inform, inspire, challenge, fulfil?
- Does the performance create and use tension, pace, drama, humour, conflict and affective issues, appropriately and successfully?
- Does the performance do justice to the piece and the writer?
- Do I believe them?
- Did I enjoy it enough to want to see them perform it again and equally, recommend their performance to others?