AUBURN | The annual performing art festival aT Cayuga Community College really puts the drama in drama.
The Theatre Association of New York State held a festival at CCC for the fourth year this weekend. TANYS is a nonprofit representing community theater groups throughout New York. It invites an average of eight member companies to perform at the fest as the result of an adjudication process.
Rochester’s Rob Sharman, vice president of the festival, said it’s nice to host the event in the same place, because it helps with logistics. Skaneateles’ Ann Frame is his right hand as the festival’s chair or leader of the committees and chief organizer and problem solver. “Our central location really helps,” she said.
The festival featured seven plays this year and five workshops. It also included fundraising activities such as a TANYS merchandise sale, a used theater books and scripts sale and a silent auction.
“One of the things that makes New York State’s festival interesting is that we host several professional workshops during the weekend,” Sharman said. “This is very rare.”
Starting in November, 10 to12 TANYS adjudicators, see up to 150 productions a year. They come together after Halloween to select an average of eight shows to be featured in the fest, which is always the weekend before Thanksgiving.
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TANYS president Cynthia “Cindy” Appleton said the association hosts classes to learn how to be an adjudicator. And, the adjudication process doesn’t have to be a negative experience. “So adjudication early can be good, because you can use that critique to make a play better,” she said.
Committee members Melissa Panek and Terri Grande organized the meals. For example, Mesa Grande Taqueria provided lunch on Saturday. Many Auburn merchants also donate goods and service. This resulted in a problem this year when Tim Hortons, set to host a coffee station, suddenly closed. Organizers scrambled to find an alternative source.
“There’s a lot of drama in drama,” Frame said.
Another fix was when Rochester’s Black Sheep Theatre production of “Dream of Passion” had to drop out last week because of an illness. Ann asked Auburn’s Mike Antico to put something together quickly. He brought festival attendees on stage and directed them in a series of improv meets quick thinking meets team building exercises.
Ann Frame's husband, Bob Frame, is the Tech Director for TANYS. His association goes back to his college theater days at Oswego State. He is also the director of theater operations at CCC, and during the festival he has a crew of stage hands and tech people that aide each visiting theater company. These companies have their own crews that collaborate with the house crews for 45 minutes before each production.
Many of the attendees got their start in high school or college drama departments. Players often try out different areas such as stage management, acting or directing. With community theater, people are often forced into filling new roles as the talent pool is shallow because of geography, such as in a small town, or to much competition, as can happen in a city.