In the dog days of this past August, when most year-round locals were just trying to stay cool inside their air-conditioned homes, Venice Theatre executive/artistic director Murray Chase was hanging out in…Monaco?
It wasn’t a vacation for Chase, though. Rather, he was attending the 16th Annual Mondial du Theatre Monaco, an international assemblage of community theater productions, viewing more than 20 shows in a week’s time in order to bring some of the best back here to Venice for the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) WorldFest coming up June 18-23, 2018.
This will be the third time Venice Theatre has played host to the WorldFest; VT also welcomed troupes from around the world to perform on its stages in 2010 and 2014. And those events, drawing up to 700 international registrant/participants and ticket buyers from all over, along with local fans, have been so successful that Chase and AACT are in discussions about bringing the fest here every two years, starting in 2020.
“There’s a learning curve for a festival like this that’s so high, it needs to be in a consistent town,” says Chase, rather than moving from city to city each time. “Our technical staff, which is so involved with building the scenery for the shows and making certain all the companies’ needs are met, has the experience now.” And, he points out, it makes sense to host such a gathering in a resort town, “one not too big, not too small, and with a massive volunteer force,” as VT has.
The selection of theater companies for 2018 is not final. It will depend both on travel feasibility and on how well the foreign-language productions translate; easy-to-follow stories and visuals are important. But Chase does know that next summer’s fest will see 16 productions, 12 on the mainstage and four in the smaller Pinkerton Theatre, each performed at least twice. It’s a hectic schedule that includes morning rehearsals and workshops, matinee and evening shows, and of course after-show social get-togethers every night in the parking lot next to the theater.
“Those are such fun, joyous times, with a great collection of talent and artistry brought together,” says Chase. “Overall, we aim for a slate that represents a wide selection of shows of high quality, that we can produce and that will have appeal for the audience.”
For the latest info on WorldFest, head to venicestage.com.