WELLSBORO - The spotlight will shine on Wellsboro this coming weekend as community theaters from all around Pennsylvania come to town to play.
Hamilton-Gibson Productions will host the 2012 Pennsylvania Association of Community Theaters Festival March 16, 17 and 18 at the Deane Center, 104 W. Main St.
The annual PACTFest provides a performance vehicle for community theaters to showcase their talents in performances of published or original works up to one hour in length.
HG's Artistic director Thomas Putnam, who is very active in PACT, secured the invitation to host last year's festival but the ongoing renovations to the Deane Center complex had not progressed to the extent to comfortably house the competition and workshops.
But this year, with the opening of HG's black box theater (with expected seating expanded to 130), Putnam and his staff will, figuratively speaking, roll out the red carpet to this weekend's participants.
Membership in the all volunteer PACT is open to individuals, organizations and corporations who have an interest in producing and promoting non-professional theater throughout the Commonwealth.
The three-day competition, showcase productions and workshops are open to actors, technicians, managers, board of directors, designers and administrators.
Pam Wright, the local Community Theatre League's executive director, will act as a facilitator at one of Saturday's workshop sessions, which focus on the artistic and administrative aspects of community theaters.
"The festival and, particularly the workshops give a broad range of networking and problem solving," Wright said. Workshops will be held in the Deane Center's rehearsal space and community rooms.
This year, the festival's focus is on playwrights and new works.
HG board member Larry Biddison confirmed that the play competition is open to all community theaters, playwrights, college and university theatre departments, and youth theaters.
The only prohibition is that no participant may be a member of the professional Actors' Equity Association.
"There's 80 minutes for each entrant to set up the stage, perform the play and strike the set. That's only 80 minutes to go from bare stage to bare stage," Biddison said.
Although Hamilton-Gibson will not be submitting a play in competition, Putnam has scheduled a special performance of last month's comedy, "Second Samuel," as a showcase production at 2:30 p.m. March 17.
An added benefit for those attending PACTFest is to compare their impressions with the judges who adjudicate each entry immediately after each performance.
The top four ranked original plays will advance to next month's Eastern States Festival to compete with entries from New York, Delaware, Maryland and D.C.
Admission is $20 for individual sessions with SuperPasses available ($50 for participants and $75 for non-participants) to attend the three days of productions, all showcase presentations and workshop sessions.
PACTFest 2012-Original Works promises a full weekend, not just for theater buffs - but for everyone who enjoys participating in community theater avocationally.