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3-day festival of 6 one-act plays kicks off Oct. 4

Benefiting the Rotary Club of Newmarket, the Festival of One-Act Plays returns with six plays over three evenings, including three never-been-seen world premieres

Six plays, three nights, 32 actors, six directors, six playwrights.

The Very Useful Theatre Company and Rotary Club of Newmarket are hosting the second annual York Region Festival of One-Act Plays at the Old Town Hall in Newmarket Oct. 4 to 6.

Behind the scenes, the actors have been learning their lines, arranging their costumes and perfecting their singing, while the directors are working hard to ensure the plays go off without a hitch.

“This festival is exciting, not only because there are 32 actors, six directors, six playwrights and six plays over a matter of three evenings”, John Dowson, past director, past president and co-founder of the Very Useful Theatre Company, said. “There will be three never-been-seen world premieres at the Newmarket festival also.”

The patrons on opening night, Thursday, Oct. 4, will have the opportunity to watch the world premieres of two plays, Warren and the Polar Bear by Los Angeles playwright and Emmy-nominated television writer and co-creator of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, Jim Geoghan. Also making a debut is Choices, written by the emerging playwright and director at Playwright Niagara, Renee Baillargeon.

For the Love of Summer takes the stage for its world premiere Friday, Oct. 5. Emerging Vancouver, B.C. playwright and finalist for the Writers Guild of Canada screenwriting-award Jennifer Siddle is presenting. Andrew Cee, a director from Toronto, has joined her team for the festival. Also in the line-up is Good Uncle Joe by award-winning Victoria, B.C. playwright David Elendune.

The Ordinary Princess takes the stage Saturday, Oct. 6. This charming play with an all-child cast is about a princess who is nothing but ordinary. Emerging Keswick playwright Joanna Kaufman, an actor in last year’s play festival, will take the reigns as director.

“Directing this play has been a very positive experience for me,” Kaufman said, “It has been challenging at times to get this play performance-ready in such a  short amount of time, but I have to credit my cast for their perseverance, eagerness and support.

“My play, The Ordinary Princess, started as a felt book for a class project many years ago. It's semi-biographical. It really is a story of being happy with yourself and accepting yourself for who you are, quirks and all.”

“Whenever I perform any play, whether as a director or as an actor, I'm always thinking, how can I improve the performance for the next time? What worked, what didn't? What can I add, what should I take away? This play has evolved over the years, depending on the cast and the location,” Kaufman added.

She said it's exciting to see how a new group of actors will present The Ordinary Princess.

“The current cast is very talented and unique, and I hope the audience enjoys the performance as much as I've enjoyed directing and creating this new version of the play.”

“This is my first year being involved with the festival as an actress and I am having a lot of fun,” Newmarket resident Ashleigh Morrison said.

Acting is a family affair for the Morrisons, with her younger sisters also taking on roles in their first play.

The festival concludes Oct. 6  with My Narrator, written by Newmarket native playwright Norm Foster.

You can join the fun afterwards at the festival awards party, which recognizes the talent for their great work, including the presentation of the Emerging Playwright Award. Siddle (For the Love of Summer), Kaufman (Ordinary Princess) and Baillargeon (Choices) are all up for the award.  

Visit for tickets and show times. Tickets are $15 per person per play, or for $40, you can watch all the plays in the festival.