March 8th, 2023

Gallery Theater hosts regional one act competition

A woman in a stocking cap and coat puts a coat around a man's shoulders.  They are on a stage.
Lights, camera, action! Photo by Ekay Media, courtesy of Gallery Theater.

When dark theaters on Broadway finally roared back to life in the summer of 2021, one of the most powerful engines was a dynamic new play by Antoinette Nwanda called Pass Over, a hip mash-up of Waiting for Godot and the Book of Exodus. Featuring two black youth talking smack on a street corner, the play has generated superlatives and buzz everywhere it is performed. 

Come March 17-18, Pass Over is just one of five terrific plays that will be performed at Gallery Theater in the Association for American Community Theater’s 2023 competition for Region IX. Five theaters from three states – Oregon, Washington and Idaho – will bring their best game to McMinnville. The winner goes to nationals. 

“This is a national organization, and every two years we rotate and this is our turn,” says Carolyn McCloskey, the local coordinator for the event. “We’re showcasing our theater.” 

Theatrical competitions are intense affairs. I know; I’ve performed in them. 

Rules are strict. Each acting company must have all of their set, prop and costume pieces in a 10 x 10-foot square at the rear of the stage. They get ten minutes to set up, exactly 60 minutes to perform either a 1-act play or an edited feature-length play, and then exactly ten minutes to return everything to the square.

Go one second over, you’re out. Leave the tip of a sword sticking over the taped edge of your square, you’re out. Then, the cast listens while the judges have their say. 

So, intense … but for audiences, thrilling. It’s a chance to see the best of the best, right here in McMinnville. 

Stage Left Theater from Spokane, Washington will bring Pass Over to the competition, along with four others:

Bellingham Theatre Guild, also from Washington, will perform When Jack Met Jill, by Adam Szymkowicz. The travails of a famous couple as they age and figure their relationship out.

Ten Fifteen Productions from Astoria will perform David Mamet’s An Interview, about a sleazy attorney being interrogated about his career. 

From Idaho, the Eagle Theater Company’s production of Ellen Bryon’s Graceland, about the rivalry between two Elvis fans waiting in line to be the first into the late King’s mansion.

Also from Idaho, the Emmett Community Theater’s production of Atypical Boy, by Laurie Books. A fable about the beauty and danger of being different in a world where individuality is feared.

This wild weekend of theater in McMinnville kicks off at 6:45 p.m.  Friday, March 17 and resumes at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 18. Thirty bucks gets you a festival pass, or pick and choose your plays for $8 each. Seating is general admission. For showtimes, tickets and more information check out the complete schedule and call 503-472-2227.

A cartoon of David Bates

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.