Theatre UNB Presents Duels and Duets, Ten Minute Plays from the NotaBle Acts Vaults, streaming live Dec. 3-5.
To compliment an all-around unusual year, Theatre UNB has adapted its traditional production routine to accommodate current health and safety measures. With no opportunity to bring large casts together on or off stage, Len Falkenstein, UNB’s director of drama, decided to revisit a number of two-person plays from past editions of the NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival.
“I decided to do this because even though my acting classes were in-person this year, I knew I couldn’t do what I normally do, which is direct a production with a bunch of people on stage together,” said Falkenstein. “So to keep things manageable and with safety in mind from a COVID perspective, I decided to take the 18 students in the class and break them into groups of two and give them each a ten-minute two-hander to do.”
An active member of the Fredericton theatre community, Falkenstein organizes both the NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival and Bard in the Barracks, in addition to teaching running UNB’s drama program. Through his work with NB Acts, he has provided ample opportunities for his students, past, present and future, to further explore their interest in theatre outside of the classroom.
“NotaBle Acts has been staging ten minute plays for almost twenty years now, so there’s a considerable vault of great plays from over the years that we’ve amassed,” said Falkenstein. “In a time when ‘shop local’ is the mantra, it seems only right to look to our own backyard for plays for a project like this. I decided to tap the talents of some good friends and give some of these very worthy plays from past years a second production.”
“…it’s the first time as a director I’ve had to give actors mask notes, and test the efficacy of different styles of masks for sound and projection.”
All the plays included in this upcoming string of performances previously premiered at past editions of the NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, or are new works by NotaBle Acts playwrights. Each of the nine plays will be directed by Falkenstein with the students of UNB’s Drama 2173 class.
Despite having worked with most of these plays in the past, in some capacity, preparing for this series of performances introduced Falkenstein to a whole new set of challenges he’d never encountered in all his years of theatre.
“It’s been quite a roller coaster ride putting the show together,” he said. “We’ve endured through various restriction levels, COVID tests – fortunately, all negative – and all sorts of uncertainty. With Fredericton’s move to the Orange Phase last week, the final result is the actors will be masked. So it’s the first time as a director I’ve had to give actors mask notes, and test the efficacy of different styles of masks for sound and projection. But otherwise the plays are going to look pretty normal, apart from the livestream presentation, which has actually given us more reach, and some different forms of artistry to play with, in regards to camera angles and such.”
Duels and Duets, Ten Minute Plays from the NotaBle Acts Vaults will feature Tub Mates by Gordon Mihan; A Curious Incident in the Park in the Daytime by Jeff Lloyd; H.E.A.R.T. by Jean-Michel Cliche; A Little Wordplay Between Friends by Sarah Higgins; Someone Gets Shot by Jake Martin; Train Ride by Michael Milech; Camp by Muriel Falkenstein; Liatorp by Anna Chatterton; and Goblin Market by McKenna Boeckner.
“All the plays are by playwrights who have had work done previously by NotaBle Acts,” said Falkenstein. “Seven of the nine plays were staged as either Street Theatre productions or readings at previous editions of the Festival. There is one brand new play by McKenna Boeckner, which is set in the here-and-now pandemic times, placed in final position in the program to transport us to the present. Each play will be introduced by the playwright, appearing via video, so that is a pretty neat thing too.
“I’ve got an excellent cast of students, and the plays are all really great too.” he said. “I really couldn’t be happier with how they’ve turned out. And there’ll be a few unexpected twists waiting for audiences when they watch too! So I hope a lot of people join us and tune in.”
Duels and Duets, Ten Minute Plays from the NotaBle Acts Vaults will be livestreamed December 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the performance night of your choice ($10 regular, $8 seniors/underwaged, $5 students) can be purchased HERE.
Your ticket purchase will provide you with the link to the livestream for the evening.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 506 447-3078.