Festival Wrap-up 2019

And the ‘Ross’ goes to at the Newmarket International Festival of One Act Plays

By Rod Urquhart

Bruce Williamson of Aurora won the ‘Ross’ Award for Best Production by a Director in the 2019 edition of the Third Annual York Region Festival of One Act Plays. The award for Best Performance by an actor was given to Fabian Levy-Hara of Richmond Hill in his performance in ‘OUT,’ which also won for Best Emerging Playwright given out to Ron Fromstein of Toronto.

The ‘Ross’ Award is named after the late Ross Bayley, who along with John Dowson, formed the Very Useful Theatre Company in 1993. Dowson headed up the Festival Artistic Committee (FAC) for this year’s three-day affair, put on by the Very Useful Theatre Company, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Newmarket.

Other nominees for the ‘Ross’ were Patricia O’Hare, Joan Burrows and Jane Spence. Other nominees for Best Emerging Playwright were David Healey and Brooke Friendly (his first play). Other nominees for Best Performance by an Actor were: Tim MacLean; Laurie Laing; and, Colin Murphy.

The Third Annual Festival of One Act Plays ran over three nights, wrapping up Saturday, Nov. 9 with the awards ceremony. It saw more than 300 theatre patrons over the three nights at the historic Old Town Hall in Newmarket.

It featured six plays, two one-act plays each night, and three World Premieres. All funds raised by this Festival go back into the community. Tickets for this annual event were only $15 a night or $40 for a three-night pass.

Photo by Greg King

Robert McNeely as Carl and Laurie Laing as Ida in a scene from The Next Ivan Sharansky, as part of the recent Newmarket International Festival of One Act Plays.

John Dowson, head of FAC, and past-president of the VUTC, wanted to “express my sincere thanks to the members of the Festival Artistic Committee for their outstanding contribution to the one act play festival. It takes many people to put on the festival and they are all volunteers who gave of their time and money to produce these six plays.”

Dowson thanked Stage manager Frank Johnston, who “kept the actors in line and organized the student stage hands.” He thanked the student stage hands, as well and also Doris Keppler, who designed the program, posters and posted the event on social media. “She is truly a gem.”

“Hats off to Rod Urquhart,” he continued, for his “illustrious” public relations, and also VUTC President Paul Bath, who raised the sponsorship monies and “kept the festival going.” Dowson offered his “distinct thanks” to the members of the Festival Artistic Committee, five of whom cast and directed five of the six plays – and five of the six directors were female!

The Festival Artistic Committee Directors were:

That wraps up another year for the One Act Play Festival – stay tuned – for next year; many changes are planned, including putting the Festival on stage earlier in the year! And as Dowson concluded, “Thanks so much to everyone who came out to see the wonderful plays. See you next year! And, we definitely broke a leg.

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