In a new partnership, DBQ One Acts and the Loras Players will present live, world premiere performances of three outstanding new theatre works, Thursday–Saturday, October 7–9 at 7:00 p.m.
Since 1977, the Dubuque Fine Arts Players, a theatre wing of the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, have sponsored a national one-act playwriting contest and have offered productions of the winning scripts. The performances are winners in Dubuque’s contest, the longest established one-act playwriting contest in the nation.
“The production partnership brings together two of Iowa’s most venerable theatrical institutions,” says Art Roche, president and producer of DBQ One Acts. Loras Players, established in 1910, is the oldest continuous theater company west of the Mississippi. DBQ One Acts is the longest-running one-act playwriting contest in the world. “That’s a combined theatrical history of 154 years!”
“There’s much to look forward to with this partnership,” Ryan M. Decker, assistant professor and director of theatre at Loras College, said. “I’m most excited for the Loras Players’ opportunity to grow as community-engaged learners and creators. For a program of our size and resources, it’s unique to have a collection of guest artists of diverse experiences and styles to work and create with students. DBQ One Act volunteers are active theatre-makers in Dubuque. My hope is that the relationships built through the festival lead to the next generation of Duhawks actively engaged in the theatre scene of Dubuque.”
Auditions were open to the entire Dubuque and tri-state community, though Loras College students comprise much of the cast of the 44th festival. Additionally, Loras senior Jacob Heelein (’22) is directing one of the winning plays.
The contest is a unique theater tradition. Every year playwrights from around the US and several foreign countries submit unproduced, original one-act plays. Each script goes through a rigorous screening process in which scripts are read by a panel of volunteers. “What makes the contest unique is that the readers represent people from all walks of life in the community,” Roche said. After multiple readings, the top ten scripts from this process are then evaluated by a panel of directors and final judges who select the three prize winners and determine which plays will be produced and staged by local volunteer actors, directors and technicians. This year’s plays are provocative and thoughtful:
- First Place: “Lighted Fools” by Bridget Grace Sheaff of Des Moines, Iowa, is directed by Jill Heitzman with performances by Ellie Coleman, Abigail Determan, Michaela Dunbar (’24), Lillian Feltes (’23), Jackson Heller, Zaebian Machande, Melissa McGuire, Cole Rebedeax and Catherine Weltzer (’21). What if we suddenly were deprived of everything we knew from yesterday and all the days before? The Queen has the power to make this happen, and comedy ensues.
- Second Place: “A Lovely Day for a Boating Trip (And To Kill Your Spouse)” by Lindsey Brown of Auckland, New Zealand, is directed by Heelein, featuring Taylor Hrabak (’22) and Ramsey Schulz (’22). The open water, a small rowboat and a marriage on the brink. Just how far would you trust your spouse? In this comedy, Gloria and Graham find out!
- Third Place: “Grey” by Kristen Benjamin Millsboro, DE, is directed by Alison English, with Sean Spicer (’23) and Avery Wickersham (’21). In this drama, two young adults meet at their ten-year college reunion. They have unfinished business from that earlier time. Will it remain unfinished? Should it?
The 44th Annual DBQ One-Acts Festival runs Thursday–Saturday, October 7–9 at 7:00 p.m. in St. Joseph Auditorium, Hoffmann Hall on the Loras College campus. Two of the plays have strong adult themes and language. All three plays are shown each evening. An opportunity to meet the directors, actors and possibly some playwrights for discussion will follow the performances each night. Admission is $15 at the door, $10 for non-Loras students, and free for Loras students, faculty and staff. Masks are required for admittance and provided if needed. For more information, visit dbqoneacts.org or like the Loras Players on Facebook.