The AACTFest competition takes place every two years, and starts with competitions at the state level. This year, New Mexico's AACTFest is in Artesia, hosted by the Artesia Community Theatre.
Theater companies enter shows, but are constrained by time limits of 60 minutes for performance, and 10 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to strike their set. Shows can be full length plays with an approved "cutting" to meet time constraints, or one-act shows that already meet the time constraints. Sets, obviously, must be portable, and all set pieces must fit in a designated space of approximately 100 square feet. Quite a challenge for directors, performers, and technical crews!
This year, the Community Players of Hobbs is entering the one-act play "The Zoo Story" by Edward Albee. "The Zoo Story" is directed by Nathan R. Miles. Nathan has previously directed "All My Sons" and "Rabbit Hole" at the Playhouse, and "Proof" at West Texas A&M University.
Your degree is in theater. Why did you choose this field?
As a kid, I had always loved "playing pretend". When I got to high school, it was something I enjoyed, but I didn't really fall in love with it until I got to college. In college, I realized that not only was this something I wanted to do for a living, but that I wanted to teach others this craft.
You have directed several shows, and appeared in several shows. Which do you prefer...acting or directing?
Honestly, it depends on the show and the role. There are roles I've played, and roles I'd love to play, that remind me of why I love acting so much. Ultimately, however, I think the storytelling elements of directing, coaching actors, and putting together the entire experience for the audience makes directing something I come back to time and time again.
Of the shows you've previously directed, which was the most challenging, and why?
Every show brings a unique challenge, be it a heavy hitting drama or a children's theater piece. But I would have to say that the most challenging, and often times the most natural, show I directed would be "Rabbit Hole". There is such a delicate balance that you must maintain in that show, that if you lose that balance it lessens the impact and the message I was trying to relate to the audience.
Why did you choose "The Zoo Story" for entry into the competition?
I chose "The Zoo Story" for it's competitive elements, the deeper subtext in the show, and ultimately because I like the story. It has several comedic elements to it, while still retaining the qualities of a thought provoking drama and a tense thriller. I felt it would give me a chance to explore new themes and stretch me as a director, which is what I always look for in a show.
Given the opportunity and resources, what show is it your dream to direct?
I've been very lucky thus far to be allowed to tell the stories that have been important and personal to me. Honestly, my "dream show" to direct would be "Cabaret" by Kander and Ebb. I love the balance between the it's large scale musical numbers and intimate storytelling that you don't find in many musicals. I would love to present a show that, on the surface is a musical extravaganza, while something sinister and threatening lurks beneath. I'd like to be able to show that silence allows intolerance to spread, and to use that motif to bring out a vision of humanity at the apocalypse.
How do you feel about being in a competition show?
I'm excited, nervous, but ready to take this next step in my growth as a director. This is the first time I have put myself in a place where my work as a director is being seriously judged and critiqued. I'm deeply honored to represent the Playhouse and Hobbs in a competition.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope people come out and support this show, since it is representing their theater in a statewide competition, and they deserve to see the show that is carrying their name to the competition. More importantly, I hope people come out and support the cast and crew that have worked so hard to put this show together. While this show is intended for mature audiences, it's still a great show, and I hope you will come out and support us.
Please come out and support "Team Zoo Story". Proceeds from the show will support our team for their trip to Artesia.