International theatre festival returns to Venice June 16 – 21, 2014; aactWorldFest will feature shows from 17 countries, parties, workshops and more

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International theatre festival returns to Venice June 16 – 21, 2014

aactWorldFest will feature shows from 17 countries, parties, workshops and more

Venice, FL) Every four years, the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) holds an international festival in the United States. And every four years the festival has been hosted by a different community theatre – until now. Due to the success of the last festival in 2010, “aactWorldFest” is returning to Sarasota County. From Monday, June 16 through Saturday, June 21, 2014, Venice Theatre will host this gathering of community theatres from around the globe. Festival Chair and Venice Theatre Executive/Artistic Director, Murray Chase, expects visitors from as many as 40 states, 25 countries, and six continents to generate 700 room nights and $1 million in economic impact during a month that is traditionally light for tourism.

Area residents are encouraged to participate in the week-long event. Theatre aficionados will want to purchase a full registration which includes all 17 performances and access to a large selection of workshops and social events. The theatre is also offering a MainStage-only registration which includes everything but the four shows being presented in the black box theatre. For the more casual theatre-goer, there will be tickets available to blocks of two to three shows, each an hour long. They will be priced at $20 for two shows and $30 for three shows. Registration fees vary based on whether an individual is currently a member of AACT. Full and MainStage registrations are available now. Tickets for show blocks will go on sale by May 1, 2014. For more information and to register, visit or call 941-488-1115.

Locals can also get involved by volunteering for the festival, including opening their home to visiting performers for the week. Several home hosts from 2010 are hosting again after enjoying the cultural exchange four years ago. Volunteers Emily and Hank Sarnecke have remained in touch with the Italian actors they hosted in 2010 and even visited them in Rome last year. Needless to say, the Sarneckes will be hosting Cinzia Grande and Andrea Lattari from Italy again this June. Those interested in volunteering for the festival should contact Volunteer Coordinator Kim Kollar at 941-484-4033, ext. 239.

The 2010 festival was well-received by attendees, critics, performance troupes, volunteers and the leadership of AACT. One participant, Line Hauger from Denmark, simply said it was, “The best festival I’ve ever attended.” Herald-Tribune theatre critic Jay Handelman attended all of the performances and several of the workshops. He described the festival as “an eye-opening experience” that left him with “an appreciation of something new.” Venice Gondolier-Sun features editor Kim Cool called the festival “educational and intriguing” and Beau Denton of Sarasota Magazine said the opening festivities were, “A gleeful celebration of the art, actors and crews from six continents ignoring language barriers to mingle with each other and local theater fans.” AACT’s then-president, Rod McCullough, recommended to the AACT board that Venice Theatre host the festival again saying, “It’s been a wonderful week and perfectly organized.”

The experience Chase and his staff and volunteers gained from organizing the 2010 international festival has been used to more easily plan an even bigger and better “aactWorldFest” 2014. The number of performance troupes has grown from 11 in 2010 to 17 in 2014. Several countries that were represented in 2010 are returning, including Australia, Italy and Israel. To accommodate the increased number of performances, the theatre is using both its auditoriums (the 432-seat MainStage and the 90-seat Pinkerton Theatre). This year’s schedule will showcase the work of award-winning theatre troupes from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Togo, and the United States. Each of the productions will be performed in the country’s native language in styles ranging from comedy to drama, to opera and puppetry. Audiences should have no fear about language barriers. “The arts are universal”, Chase says. “The language of theatre transcends words. And as in 2010, the productions we’ve chosen are visually and physically dynamic or tell stories that will be familiar.”

The success of the 2010 festival has made it easier to garner community support. As announced in an earlier release in November, 2013, Gulf Coast Community Foundation is the signature sponsor of “aactWorldFest” 2014. Visit Sarasota is providing marketing support. And Laura B. Kopple, Inc. REALTORS® is also sponsoring. A realtor seemed a natural fit after several properties were sold to out-of-town festival participants in 2010. The festival schedule is designed to give visitors plenty of time to explore Venice and other area attractions. “They get a flavor of the entire area while they’re here,” said Chase. “We want to make sure that they want to come back.”

With the planning now in its final stages, the theatre’s staff and volunteers are counting down the weeks until visitors arrive. In addition to the theatre troupes, festival attendees will include area residents from Tampa to Fort Myers as well as community theatre activists from all over the United States and the world.

“aactWorldFest” will begin with a welcome reception on the afternoon of Monday, June 16 followed by the opening ceremonies that evening and the first three performances. Educational workshops will be offered throughout each day and are included with festival registration except for the Musical Theatre Performance Master Class with Tony Award winner Ben Vereen which is $50. Each show will be presented two to three times throughout the week so that all attendees – including the actors – can enjoy all 17 performances if they choose. Each evening ends with an after-glow party at Michael Biehl Park adjacent to the theatre. A closing gala reception and awards ceremony will be held in the theatre lobby Saturday evening with one final afterglow to close out the week. Again, for more details and to register for aactWorldFest 2014, visit or call 941-488-1115.



Argentina – Our Daily Bread

Enacted in an up-tempo, silent movie style, Our Daily Bread chronicles a couple’s relationship. This exhilarating show takes our couple from first meeting through child-rearing and mid-life crises to old age. Where’s the bread in all this? It’s the center of the show. (Tues., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., 1 p.m.; MainStage)

Armenia – The Winged

Performed by the Yerevan Puppet Theatre, The Winged explores our skepticism in mesmerizing fashion. A bird is born. Or is it a man? Or an angel? A miracle occurs right in front of us, but we can’t recognize it. With stunning visuals, this play questions whether miracles occur—and if they are miracles if we don’t believe in them. (Mon., 6:30 p.m.; Tues., 12:30 p.m.; MainStage)

Australia – The Servant of Two Masters

This 18th-century Italian comedy gets a new twist: an Australian adaptation! Hijinks abound with mistaken identities, lovers’ trysts and lovers’ quarrels, and planned marriages gone awry. Through it all, our faithful servant Truffaldino serves two masters, collects two salaries, and somehow makes everything come out “happily ever after.” (Fri., 6:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; MainStage)

Bangladesh – Kanjush (The Miser)

This classic Moliere comedy is told in a totally new style, with music and dance added for accents. Our miser sets out to arrange his marriage—as well as his children’s—with money as his only goal. Through his children’s persistence and machinations, love insists on playing a part. (Tues., 7:30 p.m.; Wed., 1 p.m.; MainStage)

Canada – Babel Rap

Babel Rap introduces us to two men building the Tower of Babel. Actually, one builds and the other smokes and complains. As the play continues, they argue about their work and their purpose;

Tower is supposed to reach heaven, after all. This Canadian production also compares the Tower to today’s world structures, and our attempts to “reach heaven.” (Wed., 1 & 8 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Pinkerton)

China – The Mouse’s Daughter’s Wedding

The Mouse’s Daughter’s Wedding is a light-hearted musical performed in Chinese opera style. Filled with physical humor and delightful music, the show involves the mouse, her mother, her suitor (un-liked by the mother), and, of course, the hungry cat. Performed in Mandarin, the production’s physical humor helps to tell the story…and delight us all. (Fri., 6:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; MainStage)

Denmark – POP!

Denmark’s Black Box Pangea is known world-wide for their inventive, out-of-the-box productions and their multi-media approaches. POP! explodes onto the MainStage with striking visuals and hot music. The production delves into our lives and the effect that pop music has on them. Performed in English. (Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., 1:30 p.m.; MainStage)

Georgia – The Bald Soprano

This Ionesco classic from the theatre of the absurd brings together two couples, a fire chief, and a maid. While it starts as a visit in the Smiths’ home, this often-comedic work soon disintegrates into physical zaniness and non-sequiturs. It brings to light our self-obsession and lack of interpersonal communication, making it even more relevant today than when it was written in 1950. (Fri., 1 p.m.; Sat., 10:30 a.m.; MainStage)

Germany – Noah & the Flood

Meet Noah. And Mrs. Noah. And all the animals. This timeless story is told in a humorous manner, featuring only two actors. Many of our own age-old questions are also explored, such as why spiders and slugs have to be included in the ark. And how

do you build an ark? (Mon., 6:30 p.m.; Tues., 12:30 p.m.; MainStage)


Israel – The Black Princess


This fantasy play explores the love/hate relationship between mothers and sisters. Told in a creative physical style, The Black Princess takes us through an angry daughter’s dream in which she makes all mothers disappear. Once she realizes the consequences, our teenager princess must rescue her mother while taking a weird journey. A poignant tale, told in both Hebrew and English. (Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., 1:30 p.m., MainStage)


Italy/USA – The Inn of Crossed Destinies


This collaboration was conceived four years ago. Commedia dell’arte masters Andrea Lattari and Cinzia Andrea are working for a full month prior to the festival with young American actors to create this production. Based on a classical tale, the show uses traditional commedia “lazzi”, jokes, set actions, chants, and dances. Comedic and dramatic, the show will be performed – by masters and students alike – in both Italian and English. (Wed., 1:30 & 8 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Pinkerton)


Latvia – Poetry Butterfly


Whether you call it performance art or a story told without words, Poetry Butterfly is a mesmerizing show. Accompanied by a live musician, the storyteller creates a tale told through pictures. She creates those pictures through dance and with a fascinating array of disappearing/reappearing watercolor images … painted right in front of us! (Friday, 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.; MainStage)




Every show is different! Every performance is unique! That’s because this exciting young company specializes in long-form improvisation. They take audience suggestions just before the show, and then perform a full show based on those

suggestions. You help pick the characters, their situation, and what’s happening. (Wed., 3:30 p.m., MainStage; Sat., 2 p.m., Pinkerton)




Russia – M&W


Told through free-flowing sketches, this production explores the differences between the sexes. From a mimed sketch involving music and Russian clowning to very special dances, it celebrates our attraction—and difficulty—with the opposite sex. (Tues., 1 & 8 p.m.; Thurs., 1:30 p.m.; Pinkerton)




South Africa – Lucky, the Hero


Lucky, the Hero is a musical exploring a key life decision, and the poignant and sometimes humorous consequences that can arise. Lucky makes the bold step of being tested for HIV, then must learn to live with the devastating results. Instead of becoming a hermit, he becomes a superhero to help his community. Performed in both English and Afrikaans. (Fri., 6:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; MainStage)




Togo – Paroles des Arcanes


Paroles des Arcanes melds the Fulani and Mandingo tribal cultures with a mysterious and involving show. Ancient customs surrounding marriage, jealousy, the thirst for wealth, and hatred are brought to life, then challenged. Told through poetry, dialogue, live tribal music, singing, and dance. (Tues., 1 & 8 p.m.; Thurs., 1:30 p.m.; Pinkerton)




USA – Delta Center Stage, Greenville, MS – Crowns


Straight from the Mississippi Delta comes the popular off-Broadway musical. An at-risk city girl is sent to live with relatives down south to help her “see the light.” Through stories and soaring gospel songs, the ladies in her church help her find her true self. (Mon., 6:30 p.m.; Tues., 12:30 p.m.; MainStage)



aactWorldFest Schedule by EventsMon., June 16 – Sat., June 21, 2014

PERFORMANCES (2 – 3 shows will be presented in each “slot”)


Argentina Our Daily Bread Tuesday 7:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 2) MainStage

Wednesday 1 p.m. slot (1st of 2)


Armenia The Winged Monday 6:30 p.m. slot (3rd of 3) MainStage

Tuesday 12:30 p.m. slot (1st of 3)


Australia Servant of Two Masters Friday 6:30 p.m. slot (1st of 3) MainStage

Saturday 2 p.m. slot (3rd of 3)


Bangladesh Kanjush (The Miser) Tuesday 7:30 p.m. slot (1st of 2) MainStage

Wednesday 1 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)


Canada Babel Rap Wednesday 1 p.m. slot (2nd of 2) Pinkerton

Wednesday 8 p.m. slot (1st of 2)

Friday 8 p.m. slot (1st of 2)


China Mouse’s Daughter’s Friday 6:30 p.m. slot (3rd of 3) MainStage

Wedding Saturday 2 p.m. slot (1st of 3)


Denmark POP! Wednesday 7:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 2) MainStage

Thursday 1:30 p.m. slot (1st of 2)


Georgia The Bald Soprano Friday 1 p.m. slot (1st of 2) MainStage

Saturday 10:30 a.m. slot (2nd of 2)


Germany Noah & The Flood Monday 6:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 3) MainStage

Tuesday 12:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 3)


Israel The Black Princess Wednesday 7:30 p.m. slot (1st of 2) MainStage

Thursday 1:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)


Italy/USA Inn of Crossed Destinies Wednesday 1:30 p.m. slot (1st of 2) Pinkerton

Wednesday 8 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)

Friday 8 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)


Latvia Poetry Butterfly Friday 1 p.m. slot (2nd of 2) MainStage

10:30 a.m. slot (1st of 2)


New Zealand Improsaurus Wednesday 1 p.m. slot (3rd of 3) MainStage

Saturday 2 p.m. (single performance) Pinkerton


Russia M&W Tuesday 1 p.m. slot (1st of 2) Pinkerton

Tuesday 8 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)

Thursday 1:30 p.m. slot (1st of 2)


South Africa Lucky, the Hero! Friday 6:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 3) MainStage

Saturday 2 p.m. slot (2nd of 3)


Togo Paroles des Arcanes Tuesday 1 p.m. slot (2nd of 2) Pinkerton

Tuesday 8 p.m. slot (1st of 2)

Thursday 1:30 p.m. slot (2nd of 2)


U.S.A. Crowns Monday 6:30 p.m. slot (1st of 3) MainStage

Tuesday 12:30 p.m. slot (3rd of 3)



Master Class – Musical Performance

Broadway, TV, and film legend Ben Vereen conducts a master class with 3-4 performers/students. Workshop attendees will observe his technique, as he coaches these students toward stronger audience awareness, maximizing physicality, phrasing, and “selling” the song. Tuesday: 4:30 – 6 p.m.


Listen! Act! Interact!

Presenter: Dr. Albert Harris, Professor Emeritus, University of Louisville

Bert Harris works all week with a select number of performers, Tuesday-Friday, on acting through listening and non-verbal response. Open to all participants, recommended for American and international performers.

Tuesday – Friday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday: 8:30 – 10, Wednesday: 8:30 – 9:30, Thursday: 8:30 – 9:45, Friday: 8:30 – 9:30

Participants should attend all four sessions.


Audition a la Shurtleff

Presenter: Peter Ivanov, Florida free-lance director

Based on the 12 Guideposts established by Bob Fosse casting director Michael Shurtleff. Performers will work on a cold audition, using the Guideposts. Thursday: 8:30 – 9:45 a.m., Friday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.


Techniques of Commedia dell’Arte

Presenters: Andrea Lattari and Cinzia Grande of Maner Manush, Rome

A participatory workshop demonstrating and practicing the basics of commedia dell’arte: the stock characters, mask and costume work, and stock physicality. Tuesday: 8:30 – 10 a.m., Thursday: 10 – 11 a.m.


Techniques of Chinese Opera

Presenter: Dr. Chua Soo Pong, director, Chinese Opera Institute

A participatory workshop demonstrating and practicing the basics of Beijing Opera: movement and physicality, makeup significance, weapon work, and history. Wednesday: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., Friday: 11 a.m. – Noon



Basics of Trapeze

Presenter: Tito Guyona, Ringling Brothers trapeze artist

A participatory and/or observers workshop on trapeze techniques. Relevant to today’s theatre as circus skills are in demand (Pippin revival and Cirque du Soleil). Conducted at Venice Trapeze School. Enrollment limited. Participation recommended only for those in excellent physical condition.

Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – Noon. Participants enroll early; enrollment extremely limited. Attendance limited to one session each.

Russian Clowning

Presenter: Theatre Mimicrea, Russia

A participatory workshop demonstrating and practicing the basics of Russian clowning, focusing on attitudes and physicality.

Wednesday: 11 a.m. – Noon, Friday: 11 a.m. – Noon


Dance for Non-Dancers

Presenter: Jared Walker, Florida director/choreographer and AEA actor.

Learn a dance routine in one session. Wednesday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m., Friday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.


Building Blocks From Which To Jump

Presenter: Kathy Pingel, education director, Des Moines Playhouse

Recommended for performers, directors, and teachers. Beginning with Spolin games, Ms. Pingel demonstrates the next steps beyond the games and how they lay the foundation for future learning. Wednesday: 11 a.m. – Noon, Saturday: 8:30 – 10 a.m.


Vocal Master Classes

Presenter: Joan Hazel, Troy University.

Recommended for all musical performers. Individual short sessions with a vocal diagnostician. Find the “one” thing, different for everyone, that helps performers reach the next vocal level.

Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – Noon. Participants register for one private 20-minute session.




Puppet Making for Theatre

Presenter: Steve Dawson, professional puppetmaker and puppeteer (designer of Avenue Q puppets for Costume World)

Hands-on workshop on designing and building puppets. Thursday: 8:30 – 9:45 a.m., Thursday: 10 – 11 a.m.


Fancy Sound on a Shoestring Budget

Presenter: Dorian Boyd, resident sound designer, Venice Theatre

Demonstration and discussion of reliable but economic hardware, innovative software, and ways to keep up with industry trends.

Friday: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.


Make Your Own Musical

Presenters: Emilie Bendix and Black Box Pangea, Copenhagen

Learn to develop a short musical, from story and book to composing music. Thursday: 10 – 11 a.m., Friday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.


Amateur Directing Around the World

Moderator: Thomas Hauger, theatre professor, Copenhagen

A roundtable discussion of tips, techniques, and obstacles involving directors of troupes from around the globe. This workshop will also focus on mounting productions for international consumption. Wednesday: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., Thursday: 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.


Train, Track, and Steam Ahead! Growing and Nurturing a Volunteer Force

Presenter: Kim Kollar, Volunteer Coordinator, Venice Theatre

The coordinator of one of the country’s largest community theatre volunteer forces discusses recruiting, training, tracking, and rewarding volunteers. Key Venice Theatre volunteers will also contribute. Tuesday: 10:15 – 11:30 a.m., Thursday: 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.


Climb Every Mountain! Meeting Developmental Challenges

Presenter: Rebecca Holahan, director, Loveland Center partnership

By request from 2010. Ms. Holahan, key staff and volunteers discuss and demonstrate a theatre program for clients with developmental disabilities. Includes separate performance/demonstration. Tuesday: 8:30 – 10 a.m., PERFORMANCE Thursday 3:45 – 4:30 p.m.



Diversifying For the Future

Presenters: Tim Bixler, Executive Director of Delta Center Stage, Greenville, MS; Kristofer Geddie, Director of Diversity, Venice Theatre; and key volunteers from both theatres.

Adapting programming to reflect area demographics is necessary and desirable for long-term survival, but sometimes difficult to achieve. Discussion and Q&A, moderated by two theatres in the southeast. Wednesday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m., Friday: 11 a.m. – Noon


Theatre for Social Change

Presenters: Dr. Jimmy Perry, South Africa; Halil Itzhak, Israel.

Identifying ways to affect social change directly through theatre programs. Discussion of benefits, methods, and obstacles.

Friday: 11 a.m. – Noon, Saturday: 8:30 – 10 a.m.


Developing and Evolving Senior Theatre Programs

Presenter: Brad Wages, Director of Senior Theatre, Venice Theatre.

Discussion and demonstration of 22-year senior program, including material choices, obstacles, benefits, physical limitations (or lack thereof), and more. Includes separate demonstration. Thursday: 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., PERFORMANCE Thursday 4:45-5:30 p.m.


Meet the Publishers

Presenters: Music Theatre International, Dramatic Publishing, Stage Rights.

Roundtable and Q&A about new material, licensing issues, customer relations, and more. Wednesday: 11 a.m. – Noon


Making Things Easier: New Technologies From MTI

Presenter: John Prignano, Senior Operations Officer, MTI

New technologies for musical rehearsal and production, including forums, rehearsal software, and stage management programs.

Friday: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.






Using Dreams to Enhance Creativity

Presenter: Dr. Gai Jones, Founder of California Youth in Theatre, author of Raising the Curtain and other books

For actors, directors, playwrights.

This is a participatory workshop for the actor, playwright, or director to realize another dimension about him/herself in the journey of creative potentials. The purpose of dream work is to share a creative part of you, to get feedback from others, and to unlock your creativity. This is Dream Awareness Work. It helps an actor/director to get into the place of freeing emotions and imagination with passion and creativity. Bring pen and paper. Wednesday: 9:45 – 10:45 a.m., Friday: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.



Welcome Reception Monday, 4 – 5:30 p.m. TBA

Opening Ceremonies Monday, 6 – 6:20 p.m. MainStage

Monday Afterglow 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Michael Biehl Park

Tuesday Afterglow 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Michael Biehl Park

Wednesday Afterglow 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Michael Biehl Park

Thursday Social Event 7 p.m.- 1 a.m. Sharky’s on the Pier

Friday Afterglow 11 p.m.- 1 a.m. Michael Biehl Park

Closing Gala Reception Saturday, 7 – 8 p.m. Lobby

Awards Ceremony Saturday, 8 – 9:30 p.m. MainStage

Saturday Afterglow 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. Michael Biehl Park



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