Art in the Public Eye is looking for voters.
The Glens Falls-based non-profit recently hosted a virtual 24-Hour Play Fest, with teams of playwrights, directors and actors joining together to create new short plays, which are available to view on YouTube. Through Sunday evening, viewers can pay to vote for their favorites and all the money goes to the Charles R. Wood Theater, which has been closed to the public during the pandemic.
“APE doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar home or the expenses that come with it,” said Sara Friedman, APE’s Board President. “Like so many other local nonprofits, we use the Wood Theater for many of our programs.”
The organization has hosted the Play Fest for the past nine years and it’s traditionally held at the Wood Theater. Participants usually come together on Friday, are divided into random teams that include a writer, director and a few actors. Each team briefly meets and is given a secret theme. The writer must then come up with a script by 5 a.m. the next day and starting at 7 a.m. teams work together to learn the lines before the final presentation at 8 p.m. that evening.
In the virtual format, families and those who were in a “pod” together could team up but other than that the format remained the same. The teams had to create a short play surrounding the theme of virtual reality and present it via video.
“It gave everyone a chance to be creative and be on some type of stage again. This is an amateur play festival but a lot of them are performers and writers and it gives everyone the opportunity to do something in an industry that has been devastated this year,” Friedman said.
In one video, called “Rebooting,” two roommates argue over whether or not their friend is a robot and is too into virtual reality. In another, a virtual work assistant named Emily, who isn’t exactly helpful, matches up two new employees.
“On the Eve of Battle,” another video included in the festival, flips the script. Reality is a fantasy world, with centaurs and other creatures. One character is trying to escape into a program that connects her with humans.
“There’s new challenges when you’re producing virtually. You don’t have the support like you do when we’re in person. When we’re in person we take over the entire Wood Theater with teams rehearsing in every nook and cranny of the space and then we come together for lunch and dinner and there’s catering all day that we get donated so it’s very much this amazing, collaborative environment that you’re just working in all day,” Friedman said.
However, the virtual festival, which took place last weekend, did give those who have been participating in the festival for years a chance to come together.
“It was really nice to see people’s faces and the friendships that have been built up over the years,” Friedman said.
The plays, which are all around 10 minutes long, are available to view on the Wood Theater YouTube channel. There are links below each video and viewers can donate to vote for the winners in four categories: Best Ensemble, Best Actor, Best Overall Play and Most Creative Play. Each vote is $1 and all the donations go directly to the theater. Viewing and voting end at 7 p.m. Sunday and the winners will be announced that night.
While organizers hope to host next year’s festival in person, especially since it would mark the tenth year, to do so they said they need to support the theater now.
“Our goal [is] to keep the Wood open so we can do this in person next year,” Friedman said.
For more information visit woodtheater.org.